How Happy Wheels got its start.
Because she wanted to bring joy into children’s lives, Larissa Allison of Murrells Inlet started a program named “Happy Wheels” at MUSC’s Children’s Hospital in Charleston, SC in the spring of 1999. And on January 27, 2000, the Happy Wheels cart began making its rounds at MUSC. Reminiscing on the early stages of the venture, Larissa said: “When the idea was placed upon my heart, the program quickly sprang to life,”
In an interview, Larissa explained how it all came about: “One day my attention was diverted to a TV interview with a little boy who had leukemia but still wanted to help others through volunteer work. That was the turning point for me. God worked on my heart about it, and I promised that if he would open the door, I would walk through it. He did, and I did.”Stem cell transplant recipient Taylor Wilson and her mother Tammy select a game from the Happy Wheels cart while project coordinator Larissa Allison looks on.
Cal and Julie Harrellson of Pawleys Island were Directors in the Happy Wheels program. Cal talked freely in a telephone interview about the children’s reactions when toy-time came around. He described scenes that he witnessed at the hospital when the cart made its appearance. “The cart is coming, the cart is coming,” chimed the children, he said. “It brings mixed emotions. It’s very touching to watch a child with no hair making his or her way to the cart in their mother’s arms. It is a bright spot during a bad time of their lives, and it reminds me of the movie “Miracle on 34th Street.” The doctors and nurses move quietly out of the way when they see the cart moving toward the rooms. It is incredible that Larissa and Jim started the project from scratch.”