A Fashion Show Like No Other: How Disney and ESPN Deliver Joy to Children and Families When It’s Needed Most

With one-of-a-kind gowns, rainbow-colored boas, dramatic sunglasses, flashing cameras, eager TV news crews, distinguished ESPN guests and hosts, and “models” strutting and posing, you would think it’s a scene from the ESPYS red carpet—but in fact, this is a fashion show like no other.

On December 1, ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro and President of ESPN Programming and Original Content Burke Magnus unveiled ESPN-themed Starlight hospital gowns at Connecticut Children’s in Hartford, Connecticut, with help from young but mighty patients at the hospital.

ESPN has a long history of supporting Connecticut Children’s and the local community. There is no other place more perfect to unveil the ESPN-themed hospital gowns, which were developed through a collaboration between Disney and Starlight Children’s Foundation® and will be available to Starlight’s network of 800 medical facility partners.

And the timing couldn’t have been better. As part of Disney’s $100 million commitment to reimagining the patient experience in children’s hospitals globally, new experiences were unveiled at the event, emceed by ESPN SportsCenter host Kevin Negandhi and ESPN NFL Analyst Dan Orlovsky. Children and their families can now enjoy large-scale interactive murals, engaging digital displays, a mobile movie theater featuring first-run movies through the Walt Disney Studios’ Movie Moments Program, and resources for hospital staff and leaders including complimentary Disney+ access, character badges, and pediatric hospital-specific Disney Institute training.

To celebrate the role that sports plays in lifting people’s spirits and in recognition of how it serves as a much needed distraction during times of illness, whimsical sports-themed animated content was created with the support of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios to bring excited giggles to the young and the young at heart.

Amidst the excitement, Pitaro told a reporter, “The big priority is obviously storytelling. We take a lot of pride in creating compelling story with heart. It is our desire to make this experience just a little bit better and a little bit easier for the children in the hospital.” Jim Shmerling, President & CEO of Connecticut Children’s, couldn’t agree more, saying, “Our mission is to preserve and restore children to health and with all things we do in the hospital, there is nothing more miraculous than Disney.”