“One, two, say Strawberry Shortcake!” a dad calls out to his child posing for a picture with Ms. Shortcake herself. The soundtrack to Disney’s Frozen — the now-famous refrain of “Let It Go” — is playing in the distance. That really gets the crowd going. Suddenly, there are miniature-sized princesses dancing everywhere.
“In high school, I volunteered with Scottish Rite and fell in love with the work and the patients,” said Natalie Crow, a Highland Park High School graduate and Character Breakfast co-chair. “I knew I wanted to work with kids.”
By the time she graduated with her degree and returned to Dallas, she was looking for ways to reconnect with Scottish Rite. As it turns out, the hospital was in the process of “revamping” the Crayon Club, and Crow has chaired the breakfast for the past three years.
“Our goal is to support the mission of the hospital through volunteerism, education, and philanthropy,” she said. “We love to raise money, but at the end of the day, it’s not about the amount raised but raising awareness. More than anything, it’s just such a special place.”
At the Character Breakfast, children inside and outside the hospital enjoy a breakfast with their parents that includes a special parade of characters ranging from Disney princesses to superheroes and more. Maddox Womble, who is known as Captain Jack Sparrow for the day, has been on the board of the Crayon Club for five years.
“It’s been a huge success, and watching it grow has been cool,” said Womble, who was in character for the first time this year. “It adds another layer. Once you’re a character, you’re always a character. It makes it all worthwhile when you see a kid’s face connecting in that way. That’s why I do it.”
In addition to the parading characters and breakfast plates, the event also features door prizes, face painting, and a silent auction. With flowers and balloons underwritten by donors, the Crayon Club can focus on giving back. Ticket sales this year reached a high of 300 people.
But the Character Breakfast isn’t the only time Crayon Club members interact with kids. They participate in a spring crawfish boil for volunteers, a “Truck or Treat” night in the fall with patients, and a tree lighting in December. They also frequently bring crafts and games to spend time with the kids.
“It’s fun to get them out of their rooms and not focused on why they’re here,” third-year volunteer Rachel King said.
As for the big show, the Crayon Club uses about 50 different characters during the breakfast. A number of more volunteers stand ready and waiting in blue T-shirts to help families find their tables and make sure everyone is having a good time.
“I Googled how she poses,” fourth-year volunteer Alyssa Williamson said of preparing for her Cinderella role. “Seeing their faces … kids really do believe there’s magic.”