Project Pinball

Baptist Hospital pediatric patients enjoy the hospital’s new Shrek pinball machi

Project Pinball, a nonprofit organization that places pinball machines in children’s hospitals across the nation, donated a new Shrek pinball machine to Baptist Hospital in Beaumont on Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015. The machine was placed in the Teen Room in the Pediatric Unit of the hospital. This was the 16th machine Project Pinball has placed since the founding of the charity back in August 2013. According to the website of Stern Pinball, the manufacturer of Shrek Pinball, the machine is worth $5,699.

“We are so blessed to work with Project Pinball,” said Kim Moncla, Baptist Hospitals of Southeast Texas Foundation’s executive director. “They are a fantastic charity organization that keeps kids at the heart of everything they do. Being in a hospital is difficult for children. In addition to recovering from an illness, injury or surgical procedure, they are away from their toys and games and all that is familiar. Having a pinball machine is something kids will love!”

Moncla said she first found out about Project Pinball at the Professional & Amateur Pinball Association Show she attended with her husband and son, who are pinball enthusiasts, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was there that Moncla said she met Daniel Spolar, Project Pinball Charity Group’s founder and senior director of Project Pinball.

“I talked to him about our mission and the extra care we go through to take care of our kids at Baptist. We are the only hospital in the region to have the Albert E. and Gena Reaud Children’s Emergency Center, designed with the kids in mind. … When I sent Daniel the photo of our Teen Room that was donated by The Junior League (of Beaumont), he was sold. He said, ‘Y’all care a lot about kids, and we want to be there.’”

Spolar said the purpose of Project Pinball is to bring joy to children’s lives through active play.

“Every placement is another testimony on just how powerful one pinball machine in the right setting can be,” he said. “There are thousands of children undergoing intensive medical treatment in children’s hospitals across the country. We want to help ease their pain and speed their recovery by giving them a reason to get out of bed, to socialize and to have fun by playing an iconic American pastime ... pinball! These pinball machines allow the patients the opportunity to focus on something other than hospital life.”

Moncla said time spent in the hospital can be scary for children.

“It’s a different environment than you have at home,” she said. “It can be depressing for a child in the hospital. It gives them something new they probably haven’t seen before, and it actually engages their motor skills and thinking skills.”

The Moncla family of Beaumont, the Gulf Coast Pinball Club, and a foundation from Houston that wishes to remain anonymous have been working directly with Project Pinball on the placement of this pinball machine. 

The Houston foundation and the Gulf Coast Pinball Club donated directly to Project Pinball in support of the placement.

Project Pinball Charity Group Inc. is dedicated to providing recreational relief to pediatric patients and their families as well as the physicians and nurses who care for them at children’s hospitals.

According to Project Pinball Charity Group, a pinball machine is a powerful instrument that offers therapeutic benefits for the thousands of children undergoing intensive medical treatment in hospitals across the country and fits perfectly within the dynamics of a hospital environment. Project Pinball provides all the equipment, parts and supplies, as well as regular maintenance at no cost to the hospital.

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“A lot of children have an Xbox at home, but very few have a pinball machine,” Moncla added. “When the kids came in the Teen Room, their eyes just lit up. They were so excited.”