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Bags of Fun KC: Giving Children the Power of Play

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Almost every day in the Kansas City area, a child is diagnosed with cancer. From that moment, their world will change, bringing treatment plans, surgeries, shots and hospital stays into their immediate future instead of play dates, birthday parties and vacations. What started as a mother’s wish to offer a playful respite for her daughter fighting brain cancer has become the motivation to help reclaim the innocence of childhood for those that are threatened by the realities of their medical condition.

Gabby was an amazing six-year-old who died in September 2004 after a courageous 19-month battle with brain cancer. Gabby loved to play and her zest for life made an unbearable situation bearable. Her Bag of Fun, the original bag, filled the hospital hours and brought her some happiness. She wanted the other kids to have the same experience. While toys and games are fantastic, there is a power in each Bag of Fun that is immeasurable.

The signature project of the Gabby Krause Foundation is Bags of Fun. An ongoing program, a bag of fun is a brightly colored, cheery backpack filled to the brim with age-specific electronic games, toys and activities practical for a hospital setting. This program exists to bring joy, laughter and relief to every child fighting a life-threatening disease or condition. Through multiple volunteers and a partnership with Brookside Toy and Science, Bags of Fun goes to great lengths to ensure that quality, engaging items go into each bag. Since every toy that goes into these bags is hand picked for each child, taking into consideration their likes, needs and developmental age, no two bags of fun are alike.

Bags of Fun’s objective is to harness the power of play as a means to instigate happiness and recovery when a child needs it most. Every minute spent enjoying toys from their Bag of Fun is another minute spent away from their sickness. Rehabilitative play has been proven to reduce anxiety and stress and aid in the healing process. The biggest benefit of these Bags of Fun is that they allow children who are battling cancer and other long-term illnesses to just be kids in the very adult world of the hospital.

Through private donations, grants and corporate sponsors, Bags of Fun Kansas City has been able to deliver over 1,000 bags of fun to children who are being treated at Children’s Mercy and the University of Kansas Hospital. ■

To learn more, visit

7th Annual Black and White Party!
Each year, the Black and White Party brings in 60 percent of Bags of Fun’s annual budget. This year, the event that brings the black-and-white world of the hospital to life will be held on September 30 at the Madrid Theater. Guests will enjoy appetizers and cocktails followed by a farm-to-table dinner by Chef Charles D’Ablaing of The Fontaine and live music by the Suburbans.  Sponsorship opportunities, ticket purchase and more information are available at

Written by: Louisa Weinrich