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Lacey Hillard

Helping sick kids be brave


When Lacey Hillard started volunteering at Niswonger Children’s Hospital she loved watching child life specialists work with the children to soothe their fears and bring them joy.

“I’ve always known that I wanted to work with children,” says Lacey. “But after volunteering and seeing the child life specialists in action, I knew that this is exactly what I wanted to do.”

“Miss Lacey helps me be brave.”

Every day, Lacey brings medical play toys to scared children’s rooms, and turns their tears to smiles as she helps them give an IV to a teddy bear or put a doll through a toy MRI machine. She carefully assesses the needs of each of her patients to determine what other toys or activities would be best to help them during their hospital stay.

“Day after day, I come back for my patients,” says Lacey. “They are the ones truly doing the work here. I’m just helping them along. It’s so humbling to me to help them through this process.”

Lacey says that learning about each child’s story and previous experience with hospitalization is the most important way for her to know the best interventions to use for her young patients.

“For a lot of the children, it’s their first time ever being in the hospital. They’re seeing brand new things; they’re meeting brand new people,” says Lacey. “It means so much to me when I’m working with them toward a specific goal and they’re actually able to do it. To see their face light up and to realize, ‘I can do this!’ is so rewarding.” 

One day when a student nurse shadowed Lacey to learn about her job, she felt like the best explanation might come from one of her patients. Lacey asked her, “Can you explain to my friend here about my job and what I do every day?” Without missing a beat, the little girl replied, “Miss Lacey helps me be brave.”