Patients at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital Experience Dream Vacations

St. Jude patient Hannah on a virtual dream vacation under the seas. 

For patients like little Kiara who are battling cancer at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital® in Memphis, TN, there are endless days and nights spent just dreaming about all the wonders of the world outside the four walls of their hospital room. Now, thanks to a partnership with Expedia, St. Jude patients will no longer have to just dream, because the world is being brought to them, virtually.

St. Jude patient and horse lover Kiara on a dream vacation 

The "Dream Adventures" campaign is the brain child of the creative ad agency 180LA who together with Expedia, seeks to give children at St. Jude virtual reality travel adventures as a form of healing power. "We hit on this insight that travel actually does have healing power, and when we were talking to the kids at St. Jude's, one of the things we found out was that a lot of them had dreams of places and adventures they wanted to go on. But sadly, they wouldn't be able to because of their illnesses." said William Geiner, Chief Creative Officer of 180LA.

Expedia and 180LA worked with St. Jude to find patients who had a big travel dream, and set to make that dream come to them with the help of 360 degree virtual reality (VR) cameras and a custom built projection room in the hospital. Expedia Senior Brand Marketing Manager Jessica Eichner said, "One of the great things about St. Jude's is that they're very conscious of how the handle their patients. They're very protective in a good way and helped us to find who would enjoy it, who was feeling well enough and whose families would be on board."

Armed with their patient's travel dreams and a VR camera, employees from Expedia set out to capture in essence what their patient's deepest travel dream was, then send it back to a six sided screen room in Memphis, giving patients an immersive, floor to ceiling travel experience. For patient Kiara, her travel dream was to see wild horses, so Sara, a brain cancer survivor and employee at Expedia, traveled to Argentina to make that happen, and THIS  is the result.

Because the travel experiences with the "Dream Adventures" are happening live and in real time, Kiara was able to talk with Sara, ask questions, even pointing out a horse she wanted to "see" closer. It was the first time 360 degree filming, projection mapping, and live streaming technology have been used together. During each experience, the patient was able to explore and direct the actions of the on site trekker. For Sara, bringing wild horses to Kiara, and whatever else she can do to make her life better, was "an honor" to do.

The "Dream Adventures" is not only a dream for Expedia, but as a long standing partner of St. Jude, it is part of their bigger initiative to bring awareness of the mission of the research hospital.
By offering their travel customers the opportunity to turn their vacation rewards into monetary donations to St. Jude, Expedia has made a commitment to leverage its global reach, while at the same time bringing hope to the families and patients at St. Jude.

It would also like to continue bringing the world to patients at St. Jude, and is committed to making it an experience for more children. Vic Walia, senior director of brand marketing for Expedia said, "We are in active discussion with St. Jude about building a permanent installation so that more kids can experience adventures."

For more videos of the "Dream Adventures" initiative, visit Expedia on Youtube

For more information on the Expedia/St. Jude partnership visit

Open Letter to College Kids Who Need Safe Spaces- Parenting is Gonna Kick Your Ass

At college campuses all across America our young men and women are being triggered. It’s an epidemic of uncanny stress and the total inability to actually deal with their surroundings brought on by something society has even given a special name to- microagressions.  So dangerous are these aggressions and the trauma they trigger, they’re requiring the need for campus safe spaces, on-site therapists, and even mind spas to ensure those fragile few who were triggered don’t leap from a building on their way to the campus dining hall. 

What exactly are these triggers that have made scads of coddled 19 year olds so uncomfortable they now require total shielding from such fate?  Surly, only barrels of actual GUNS would trigger a reflex of such intense emotion it would require total avoidance, amiright? Nope, iamnot.  These micro aggressions  are things like coeds wearing sombreros and fake mustaches at a fiesta themed fraternity party (racist and offensive to hispanic students!) or when students at Columbia University asked that greek mythology classes be given an actual trigger warning because of their violent and often offensive themes. (Oh the horror of Ovid’s Metamorphosis!)

You see, there’s an entire generation of people currently walking around thinking somewhere in the Bill of Rights, is the right to not be offended. Like, by ANYTHING. It would be funny if it weren’t for one thing- these people will one day be PARENTS,  and if there’s one thing I’ve learned about being a parent, it’s that there is a lot of shit that’s gonna want to make you run away and cry into a safe space. But guess what? You can’t! So listen up college kids, it’s time to grow a pair and prepare yourself for the real traumatic triggers and microagressions in life that are headed your way. They’re called KIDS, and here’s a few things you’re going to need a safe space from.

1. Themed birthday parties

If you thought someone dressed like Speedy Gonzalez was stressful, wait until you meet an eight foot tall rat who serves greasy pizza,  and then you have to dive head first into a booger filled ball bit for a pacifier. 

2. Stories that don’t have a happy ending

We no longer own “Love You Forever.” I threw that emotional mess of a book out the window after I realized just getting to the end would send me into a three day depression.  Get used to it future parents, because great kid lit doesn’t come with an emotional trigger warning. Better hope your little wizard isn’t a Harry Potter fan because Dumbledore DIES. Deal with it.

3. Hate speech and foul language

If you cannot handle a person inexcusably and unabashedly saying mean things and blurting out profanity, I suggest the day your child turns 13 you push them out of a moving car, or learn to completely tune them out. Both will work. 

4. Music with misogynistic and racist lyrics

Don’t let your teenagers listen to anything on today’s pop charts, or any music by artists in a certain genre who frequently use the “N” word, because it’s all horrifically offensive in one way or another. Go classical, or here’s a crazy idea- realize it’s just music, and people are free to sing about whatever they want to. Don’t like it? Don’t listen to it. 

5. Human dignity atrocities

You’re going to be defecated on, peed on, and puked on. You’re going to have your nipples twisted, pulled, bit and chewed on. Your hair is going to be pulled out by chubby fingers with a death grip. You’re gonna be pinched, prodded, poked, and pushed on, and that’s just by your doctor- wait until a three year old does it. Your calcium, iron, and vitamin stores will all be depleted from your body in just 40 weeks. Your perky breasts will go from porn star fabulous-ness to empty sock pockets before you can say miracle bra.  You will not sleep for a decade. Now, tell me again how your body is a wonderland and deserves total autonomy?

6. Groups with exclusive memberships

Playgroup moms will chew you alive and then spit you out if you don’t mother exactly like they do. There is a preschool parenting pecking order and group exclusivity that takes in the early years. My advice? Your safe space is the mom friend who comes over at 10 a.m. asking if she can borrow some triple sec and coarse salt. Follow her home at nap time.

7. Your body is your own and should never be violated

Except when you’re in labor, and a dozen med students happen to appear when you’re spread eagle and eight centimeters dilated, and they just want to “have a feel.” Sure,  go for it! My body is your learning tool! 

8. Parenting experts

Listen up college kids, because this is where it gets good. Parenting is going to smack you right across your overly sensitive and coddled face, but in a very, very good way. You will be brought to your knees in despair and doubt, both the day you bring your baby home from the hospital and the day they move out and go to college. Friends, immediate family, books, and even total strangers are going to tell you all the time you’re doing it wrong, and you’re going to need the mental maturity and vulnerability to learn and recognize when they are actually right. 

Those social causes you used to march and rally for? They don’t hold a candle to the new cause you will forever be rallying for, YOUR KID. Your intolerance for those that don’t think exactly like you will be transformed into real tolerance, as your heart grows softer and more empathetic to the struggles and stress every single parent faces at one point or another, regardless of their race, religion, sexuality, or political beliefs. You will no longer see a Christian, an atheist, a liberal,  or a democrat. You will now just see another parent also walking through life with their fragile heart now beating on the scary outside of their bodies. Like you,  it first beat within them, then crawled underfoot, then walked clumsily, then rode a bike, then waved goodbye as they stepped on the school bus, and then it gave you a big hug when you left it at the college dorm steps. 

All of it, every single second of parenting, is one big microaggression and trigger after the next. It’s going to make you question and yell and fight and demand and cry and listen and ultimately force you to take leaps of faith you never thought possible. You will need the strength and courage to accept things you vehemently disguise, and you’ll need the grace to handle circumstances that disgust you. 

I believe in this next generation of parents, even if right now they can’t handle fake mustaches and sombreros, or scary myths and politically incorrect memes.  I still have hope that just like me, the day they become a parent, is the day they really became a grown up.

You can do this young people, I know you can. Just lose the righteous attitude, will ya? 

That shit will come back to haunt you when you have teenagers. 

Easter Way Back When

If you were a little girl in the late 70s and early 80s, there is a great chance right about now you are an “OVER IT”  mom,  and by “over it,” I mean you’re over just about every aspect of childhood being hijacked by commercialism and marketing. Halloween merchandise  starts appearing in August, Christmas soon thereafter, and even birthday parties have gotten insane with the idea that stuff, stuff, and more stuff is the norm. Well thank God Easter was still safe. I mean, it’s a holy day. It’s kinda like, sacred. It’s special, and yet simple. It’s an uncomplicated spring day, with kids skipping around the backyard looking for eggs,  then maybe a drive to Grandma’s house to eat a spiral sliced ham, and eagerly bite the head of that chocolate bunny behind the clear cellophane. 



Easter, like every other holiday, celebration, and manageable childhood party, has been hijacked, and taken over by aisles and aisles of things. Big things. Little things. Shiny things. Wireless things. Now, it’s not enough to give your kids a little straw basket with jelly beans and cream filed eggs. According to a TV commercial a large retail giant is currently airing, my kids should wake up on Easter morning to brand new bikes. B-I-K-E-S. And iPads. And baskets overflowing with Lego sets, dolls, and DVDs. 

What the marshmallow peep is that all about? 

I cannot be alone in thinking all of us moms are overwhelmed enough, are feeling ‘guilty’ enough, and are feeling ‘less than’ enough.  We are chasing a picture of holiday perfection that for the average family is just unreachable. And then the guilt with it? Don’t even get me started.  Not gonna go there. 

How about we just do Easter like we were brought up doing it? What was so wrong with that? My parents put nickels, dimes, and quarters in plastic eggs and hid them around the house. Finding and then snapping open an egg with three quarters in it was the biggest thrill, and if you got the egg with the one dollar bill in it? Score! As little girls we wore matching dresses, bonnets and gloves, and went to church and stayed after in the hall to eat glazed donuts and drink OJ out of tiny cups. After, we went through our pink (un-monogrammed GASP!) fake straw baskets, digging under the lime colored easter grass, looking for chocolate coins, jelly beans, and if we were lucky, a chocolate bunny and maybe a  plastic bracelet or necklace we could wear for the day. We would head to grandma’s house, where we would swim all day with our cousins, between shoving candy in our mouths and waiting on the huge dinner she was preparing. At day’s end we were exhausted,  content, having had a taste of what our laid back summer would be like. Our parents  did nothing over the top special, no Pinterest perfect crafts, or hundreds of dollars spent. And yet I can recall a day that took place over 30 years ago with perfect clarity. 

Easter Day involved family, not things. Being together for a brunch, not getting on new bikes. And somehow, we felt loved and special without the excess. What a concept. 

This Easter, I will not buy into the buy everything culture. We will do our own simple thing- hide some eggs, open some candy,  go to mass. We will visit Nana, have dinner together, and let the kids play with their cousins. And we will leave the TV off, because I'm sure there is a car company airing a commercial where the Easter Bunny leaves a $65K luxury vehicle topped with marshmallow peeps in the driveway Easter morning.