Lions, tigers and bears! Oh my!

Lions, tigers and bears! Oh my!

By Jamie Harrison

. Shawen Ilaria, as Glinda the Good Witch of the North, and Brendan Chancellor, 7, watch members of the White Coat Company perform “The Wizard of Oz” at Shands Hospital for Children./Photo by Maria Belen FariasBy Jamie Harrison

Dorothy, Toto and the rest of “The Wizard of Oz” gang visited some special munchkins at Shands Hospital for Children in April. Every year, the College of Medicine’s White Coat Company produces a play to perform throughout the Gainesville community, including for children in the hospital.

“I think in some ways it’s giving the kids a break from their hospital rooms, maybe even giving them a break from focusing on their illnesses,” said Melissa Kalbhenn, a medical student and play director. “Some of the pediatric patients in Shands spend weeks or months in the hospital.”

This year, the White Coat Company took a trip to Oz. The patients and their parents giggled and sang along as the characters made their way down the yellow brick road.

Photo by Maria Belen Farias

The play is just as much fun for the members of the White Coat Company as it is for patients, too. Kalbhenn played the part of Aunt Em, while co-director Sara Rodriguez took the role of the Wicked Witch of the West.

“As part of the White Coat Company, student volunteers are able to give back to the local community,” Rodriguez said. “We work together to bring joy to diverse audiences that we don’t interact with regularly.”