When Eddie Miller's parents asked him to consider doing something different for his 10th birthday, he decided to help young patients at Allegheny General Hospital.
Eddie, son of Edward and Christine Miller of Plum, will be a sixth-grader at St. John Elementary School in that borough. He collected about $320 in cash and gift cards for kids in the hospital pediatric ward during his summer birthday party at Olympic Pool in Penn Hills.
He used the money to buy 11 video games.
Eddie and his parents then contacted and worked with the Mario Lemieux Foundation which, along with Microsoft, paid for and installed Xbox video game systems for each of the hospital's eight pediatric beds. The Xbox systems each cost about $250.
Impressed with the youngster's initiative, the hospital arranged for Eddie to work with the Microsoft technicians and last month he came to the hospital with the bag of video games he had picked out.
He also spoke to and visited with the children in the pediatric ward.
"He got to help the kids, see them smile. He got to see they were kids like him," his father said. "He was really excited to do it."
Eddie also got to meet the nurses in the pediatrics unit and to see what they do.
Eddie said his summer project combined his two favorite pastimes, video and hockey games; he plays hockey with the Pittsburgh Vipers youth hockey team in New Kensington, and also plays hockey with the "freshman" hockey team of Central Catholic High School, a youth team for sixth- through eighth-grade hockey players from area Catholic schools.
Drew Keys, vice president of fund development for the West Penn Allegheny Health System, said Eddie was "very genuine" when he arrived at the hospital the morning of the video game system installations and started unwrapping presents and talking to the children.
In addition to Eddie's birthday gift, two televisions were added to pediatric rooms through the health system's Playroom Fund, which is supported by a charitable trust and other individual donors.
Ann Cloonan, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.