The Get Marty: Community Bridges series is made possible with the support of UPMC.
When 4-year-old Lilli woke up one morning two years ago with crossed eyes and double vision, her family wasn’t sure what to expect. Doctors at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh diagnosed Lilli with an optic pathway glioma, a slow-growing tumor in the area where the brain and the optic nerve connect. Doctors recommended chemotherapy, once a week for 52 weeks.
For the family, it was devastating news. But that’s where the magic began. Lilli decided to wear one of her favorite princess dresses to her first treatment. She got so much attention from her care team and other families she continued to wear a different dress to each appointment.
The joyous response to Lilli’s costumes gave her mother Courtney Durante, of Irwin, and her aunt Caitlyn Attinger, of Bethel Park, an idea. They and another friend started a non-profit, Costumes For Courage, which collects new, unopened costumes (and donations to buy them) and distributes them free of charge to children facing medical challenges.
“We saw how happy it made Lilli and we knew we had to do something,” said Durante. So far they’ve distributed over 100 costumes to children in 20 states and three countries.
Attinger says they provide costumes to any family that asks for one. “We want to make a kids as happy as we can.” They even provide costumes for siblings if requested, knowing that having a sick brother or sister can be hard on the whole family. Originally the team had planned to hold in-person costume drives and distribution, but the pandemic forced them to rely solely on donations and the mail for now.
Attinger and her husband take delivery of the donations, store them, and fulfill the requests by mailing out costumes already in their inventory, or using money donations to purchase outfits they don’t have in stock.
The cost to purchase a costume runs the organization between $30 and $60, and $10-$15 to mail it.
Costumes For Courage
Check out their website to find out how to request a costume for your child or someone you know.
You can also find details on different ways to donate.
The Get Marty: Community Bridges project is produced with the generous support of UPMC. Life Changing Medicine.