Katrell Sharp smiled and blew kisses to fellow patients and nurses in a playroom at Sunrise Children’s Hospital, unaware of the giant, white bunny standing to his right.
As the 1-year-old turned while blowing kisses, his hands flew up, his eyes popped wide open and he squealed in delight at the sight of the Easter Bunny.
It’s safe to say it was a joyous meeting, much like it was for the other children who, for a moment, forgot about their location and enjoyed the perks of the holiday: Easter baskets, new toys and a visit from the Easter Bunny herself.
“This is so great,” Evelyn DeLeon kept saying as she sat next to her younger brother, 9-year-old Levy Montes, who underwent surgery for appendicitis Sunday morning.
Montes’ first question to the doctor had been, “Can I go to the family Easter party?” his sister said.
The answer, of course, was a disappointing “no.”
“When he woke up and we told him there’s going to be a party, his eyes lit up,” DeLeon said.
Child life specialists — the people who, among other things, aim to make children’s hospital stays less burdensome — coordinated the Easter Bunny’s visit to the hospital with E-BUNNY, a volunteer program that delivers baskets to disadvantaged children throughout the Las Vegas Valley.
Barbara Kenig founded the E-BUNNY program in Detroit in 1990 and brought it to Las Vegas when she moved here in 1999. This marked the program’s first stop at the children’s hospital.
“This year we’re giving away close to 2,500 baskets,” she said. “We need to reach more children, sadly.”
The group — including its most important member, the Easter Bunny — visited children at several low-income housing complexes Saturday in what has become a “Vegas tradition,” Kenig said. The children were waiting outside for the bunny’s arrival.
At the hospital, the Easter Bunny made indoor visits to the fourth and fifth floor to children who can’t go home or be outside for the holiday.
In the fourth-floor playroom, the Easter Bunny held a crying newborn, who stopped fussing in her furry arms, and gave 5-month-old Mia Romero a new Beanie Baby.
Meanwhile, 9-year-old Jacob Alcala sat at a table, meticulously painting an Easter egg in a coloring book.
His mother, Jenny Alcala, watched her son from the corner of the room as she held his Easter basket containing a new toy truck.
“He was so excited,” she said, referring to the bunny’s visit. “He was like, ‘I’m going to miss Easter and my sisters.’”
Turns out, he didn’t miss either. His three sisters were set to arrive at the hospital shortly after the bunny’s departure.
Upstairs, in the pediatric intensive care unit, the bunny paid a special visit to Denysha Raye Clark, who was on her fifth day of chemotherapy treatment for leukemia.
The beaming 3-year-old stared in awe at her basket full of dress-up accessories.
“Wow, look at that — the princess gets a whole basket of princess stuff!” her grandmother, Patricia Roach, exclaimed.
The little girl looked up at the bunny and whispered “thank you” — and with that, the cotton-tailed rabbit headed down the hall to bring Easter cheer to another patient.