Children smile, dance as Elmo visits Hurley Medical Center’s pediatric unit

FLINT, MI – Gianni Serra, 3, sat up from his hospital bed in Hurley’s pediatric unit, the unremitting sound of a heart monitor nearby a steady reminder of his battle with diabetes.

Eyeing the large red monster that walked into his room Friday, March 22, Gianni’s face lit up.

“Elmo!” he said.

“This is the best thing ever cause he’s had such a rough week,” said Angela Serra, Gianni’s mother.

Gianni and Elmo began exchanging tickles and playful gestures. Though Elmo didn’t share any words, Gianni was met with hugs and a smiling face from the friendly monster.

“Look at him,” Angela, 33, of Flint, said. “This means everything to him.”

The visit from Elmo was part of Sloan Museum’s exhibit “Sesame Street Presents: The Body.” It’s the first time Sloan has teamed with Hurley Medical Center to bring Elmo to children in the pediatric unit.

“To have Elmo come into your room when you’re not feeling well … the expression on their faces are just full of joy,” said Cathy Gentry, marketing manager at Sloan Museum. “They’re just so happy to see such a friendly face.”

Sarah Johnson, 32, of Grand Blanc, said her 13-month-old daughter Margaret was confused first but after Elmo reached out a furry hand, she responded positively – even making sounds and hopping on the bed in a little dance.

“Any kind of distraction is good when you’ve got a sick little one,” Sarah said. “She’s definitely smiling more than she was.”

Parents were given a copy of pictures taken featuring their child and Elmo. Elmo began visiting the children at 10 a.m. Friday, escorted by representatives from Sloan Museum and Hurley Medical Center to various rooms within the pediatric unit.

“Sesame Street Presents: The Body” is an interactive exhibit that seeks to teach children the workings of the human body. It is on display until May 26 at Sloan Museum. The museum also holds a “Breakfast with Elmo” event monthly and Elmo can be booked for birthday parties.

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