Do you remember the exhilaration of ensure a movie in theaters when you were young?
Those experiences can feel magical. Even the interesting thing — your ticket being torn, watching your popcorn get scooped into a bag, scouring the display case for your favorite candy, choosing the perfect seat — are all part of this meaningful and exciting ritual, especially when it’s new.
It can be easy to forget, though, that not everyone has these experiences. For instance, youth in hospitals combating serious and even life-threatening illnesses are among that group .
Going to see a movie in theaters could be only a remote memory for them.
While their friends enthusiastically talking here the new “Star Wars” movie, quoting all their favorite lines, youth in hospitals are sometimes left out , not knowing when they’ll be able to see it. And by the time the movie is released after its theater running — presuming they have access to DVDs, streaming services, or the like — the excitement often has died down, and everyone has moved on to the next blockbuster.
For young people who already feel unplugged from the outside world, it’s one more route they can feel left out .
This is something that Janis Fischer noticed when she was volunteering at her local hospital’s movie night.
On these Friday evening movie nights, the hospital would screen movies they had rented. These were always popular occasions , so in January 2001, Fischer guessed she’d up the fun and give them an extra special experience: go to the movies that was still in theaters .
Fischer was able to borrow a friend’s screening copy of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas, ” which had only just opened in theaters. The exhilaration on the hospital floor lasted for days.
That’s when Fischer had a brilliant idea — rather than making this a one-time treat, she’d find a way to bring the theater to them on a regular basis.
After an introduction from a mutual friend, she teamed up with Evelyn Iocolano, who had worked on a number of major motion pictures like “I’ll Be There” and “The Big Tease.” Joshua Gaspero, a children’s book publisher and friend of Fischer, joined the team as well.
Together, the three founded Lollipop Theater Network , a nonprofit that brings brand new films and TV series to youth in hospitals across the country .
“[ We] let them have a little bit of their childhood back, ” Iocolano explains.