I’m very lucky to be a professional fool. Wherever you are in the world, I’d like you to take a silly selfie, post it online and you can help the Clown Doctors bring smiles to sick kids in hospitals across Australia. Until April 2 (yes, less than 24 hours away), for every silly selfie that you post on Instagram or Twitter (or a public post on Facebook) with the hash tag #ClowningForKids, the Commonwealth Bank will donate $10 to Clown Doctors Australia. You don’t have to use your own money. Make a funny face, post the photo, tag it and the bank pays. So simple a fool could do it.
Share this post with your friends. My day job makes me so joyful I could almost turn into a happy clapper.
Today the Australian Clown Doctor community say farewell to our beloved leader, ever-smiling, humble, generous, warm hearted Peter Spitzer, the son of Czech Holocaust survivors who became a doctor then started The Humour Foundation charity in Australia. In 1996 I remember sitting in the gym of a sweaty police boys club in Erskineville with a handful of other fools while Peter explained what a Clown Doctor program could look like. Peter’s vision made our work a reality. Over the years I had the privilege of working with Peter at Sydney Children’s Hospital, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and Royal North Shore Hospital, as well as sharing meals at our conferences and hours doing workshops and training where he taught us more ways to help those suffering. We were always inspired by his love for all the fabulous families we are lucky enough to meet in our hospital Clown rounds. Peter Spitzer approached all human life forms with an open heart, eager to learn their stories, connecting with everyone, young and old, whether the head of the hospital or a small kid in need of some distraction. He had the sharp mind of an eager scientist, always enthusiastically sharing his findings with us, always looking for ways to better our work.
My years as a Clown Doctor were punctuated by visits to Peter’s house after the Bowral Ball, where he worked his magic and made people laugh, while the lovely locals raised money to continue our programs. I treasure the memories of staying over at Peter’s house afterwards, and grand breakfasts with Peter and his darling wife Judy as we discussed our work and new ways to fundraise with his beautiful band of supporters. Later I was lucky enough to work with Peter on the pilot Elder Clown program, where Peter shared his passion for making life better for adults living with dementia.
Dear Doctor Fruit-Loop (see I didn’t forget the hyphen) you gave us a purpose for our work. You never grew tired of seeing the joy on a sick child’s face. You gave our performing lives so much meaning, we weren’t there to show off, we were there to empower sick children and frail elderly people. It is always about them, not us. Clown Doctoring is not a job, it is a calling, and you showed us the way. We are so sad you have left us but we vow to continue your work, we want you to be proud of us. Adios Doctor Fruit-Loop, I will think of you and the twinkle in your eyes when I carry far too many props in my coat, whenever I see a rubber chicken, or see a child’s face change from fear to laughter. I’m so glad I told you how much we all loved you the last time i saw you. I have a job and a life of meaning thanks to you. Thank you for sharing your gifts with us, you have left a magnificent legacy.
One month from today on Sunday August 10 I will be walking 14 kilometres from the city of Sydney to Bondi beach in my best Calvin Clown tracksuit to raise money for Clown Doctors Australia. The Clown Doctors treat sick children in hospital with smiles, fun and laughter when they need it most. We touch the lives of over 155,000 people a year, and ‘operate’ in partnership with 21 hospitals around Australia. The entire hospital community benefits – patients, family and staff. The Humour Foundation provides this service free of charge to hospitals. The work of the Clown Doctors is extremely important and the healing power of humour has been recognised in many studies. Everyone knows that “Laughter is the best medicine,” and research has found physiological and psychological benefits to patients. The outcome of making a child smile at a very difficult time is instant, but one that can have a long lasting effect for both the child and their family. Having an intervention which is able to provide humour and improve health can often be a strong coping technique for a sick kid. I love my job and I love talking and walking so I’d better start bulking up on my carbs (do donuts count?), I need to be ‘match fit’ in one month.
You can donate here: https://city2surf2014.everydayhero.com/au/drquack
It’s the start of the silly season and even in the hospitals I work in with really sick kids we love to celebrate at this time of year with a party or three. We visit children who become really sad when the medical staff tell them they won’t be going home for the holidays. They’re far from family and friends and need a lift. We’re often by their bedsides with Santa, TV celebrities, sports stars and various super heroes trying to divert and distract them with songs and giggles and presents. I will never tire of making kids laugh with smiles and silliness. Every time I see a child’s sad face light up my heart sings. I am so lucky to meet these marvellous families, doing my job is a privilege that I don’t take for granted.
If your kids are healthy, hug them and hold them tight. You have won the lottery as a parent.
In my old age I have truly become an elite athe-lete. I’m sure some people can’t help feeling a tad jealous of my superior fitness and style, so I’m happy to share a tip from my exercise system. As part of my intensive City to Surf training program, I went to a birthday party last night and bulked up on carbs. Champagne, pizza, Twisties, icecream and chocolate may have been consumed but I will burn them off tomorrow as I’m walking (more like strutting) in my best going out tracksuit for 14 (count them) tiny kilometres. When exercising it is very important to look stylish. I can’t wait to sweat it out at the Back of the Pack with the other lunatics. Last year it took me 3 3/4 hours to walk the course, I’m aiming for a Personal Best this year of over four hours. Bring it on Bondi, I’m coming atcha!
I’m walking (not running) 14 kilometres in the City to Surf race from Sydney city to Bondi beach on Sunday August 11th dressed as Clown Doctor Quack to raise funds for The Humour Foundation so we can continue our work in 21 children’s hospitals across Australia bringing joy and giggles to very sick kids.
“Nothing is worth more than laughter. It is strength to laugh and to abandon oneself, to be light. Tragedy is the most ridiculous thing.” Frida Kahlo
I don’t use my blog to make money, but if you want to donate to my cause, please click the link below.
I’ve just been overseas on holiday. I had a break from the hospitals I work at which really helped me understand how lucky I am. I have a great job, my health, three well kids and tons of friends. The mothers I encounter in the hospitals where I work aren’t so lucky. These women are true champions. If there were a parenting Olympics they would win every medal and no one would question whether they were on performance enhancing drugs. Their events are the unglamorous side of mothering. Aiding your child in hospital is not something they do to gain kudos or attention or to show their children off in public.
These women daily win gold medals for most hours of sleep deprivation, after months spent on fold out chairs beside their children’s beds.
Their silver medals are for enduring what most parents avoid. Watching your child in excruciating pain and not being able to do anything about it except buzz the nurses and doctors for more pain meds is an event I don’t want to be a part of.
They gain bronze for leaving the hospital at all hours, early morning to late at night to find something else for their child to eat or to go shopping for toys that will distract their children from pain when they could be resting.
Some of them even manage to have a shower and brush their hair or put on a bit of lippy. I can’t manage that some days.
They could whinge all day long (I would) but they don’t. They are funny and resilient and strong and they sing and laugh with us when they could be crying in a corner. I feel humble in their presence. They are goddesses walking the earth. I will start a new religion to worship these ladies, and the nurses who serve them day and night.
Today is Smile Day, a national Clown Doctor celebration day; also known as April Fool’s Day. My colleagues and I are very silly every day but today we invite normal people to join us in commemorating this special occasion. It is very important that you take your whoopee cushion to work and tell your friends a fart joke on April 1st. The word silly is derived from the German selig, meaning “blessed“. “Blessed” went from “blessed fool” to simply “fool” later in English. When someone tells me I’m a fool, I take it as a compliment. My funny, warm hearted Sydney Clown Doctor team workmates never fail to make me laugh; I love Dr Dotty, Dr P. Brain, Dr Have A Chat, Dr Dingbat, Dr Tickle Me Please, Dr Know-It-All, Dr I.M. Crackers, Dr Sniggles, Dr Fruit-Loop, Dr Silly Billy, Dr Colourfool, Dr Paperwork, Dr B. Looney, Dr Tickle and Dr Nick Nack.