Children’s hospital named as next Suitcase Party beneficiary

Rani Gupta

Suitcase Party named La Rabida Children’s Hospital and Research Center, which focuses on chronic diseases, as its beneficiary for the 2002-03 philanthropy event.

The medical center is one of only a few in the country that focuses on treating children with chronic diseases such as asthma and cerebral palsy. The hospital also treats disabled and abused children.

Dianna Di Iorio, Suitcase Party’s executive co-chairwoman, said the group chose La Rabida in part because it offers ample opportunities for Northwestern students to volunteer with the children.

“We’re trying to get everyone involved in volunteering, not just the outreach committee,” said Di Iorio, a Weinberg sophomore.

Students will participate in established programs such as “feeder rocker,” where volunteers are trained to feed infants and “night light,” where students spend time with children as they are going to sleep.

Kipp Davis, public relations co-chairman, said Suitcase Party also chose La Rabida because of its focus on lower-profile, non-fatal illnesses. La Rabida’s mission differs from this year’s beneficiary, Children’s Place Association, which provides care for infants with HIV and AIDS.

“We worked with an AIDS organization last year,” said Davis, a Weinberg junior. “Now we have the chance to work with an organization that’s going after a different cause.”

Suitcase Party, NU’s second-largest philanthropy event behind Dance Marathon, raised $32,148.36 this year for Children’s Place.

Di Iorio said Suitcase Party also was impressed by the staff’s dedication and the “amazing” facilities.

“In a lot of ways, La Rabida could help us with corporate ties for fund raising,” she said.

Di Iorio said the money raised by Suitcase Party likely will go to La Rabida’s child abuse advocacy program, which provides care and counseling to abuse victims.

The money will be used to expand the services and train staff members, Di Iorio said.