Nintendo vice president named Starlight Citizen of the Year at luncheon

The Starlight Citizen of the Year award was presented to Don James, executive vice president of operations for Redmond-based Nintendo of America, at Starlight Children's Foundation-Washington's annual fundraising luncheon Oct. 18.

Don James

Don James

The Starlight Citizen of the Year award was presented to Don James, executive vice president of operations for Redmond-based Nintendo of America, at Starlight Children’s Foundation-Washington’s annual fundraising luncheon Oct. 18.

More than 400 people attended the event at the Bellevue Hyatt Regency, applauding the foundation, also based in Redmond, which gives entertainment to seriously ill children and their families.

Serving 91 hospitals and medical clinics statewide, Starlight Children’s Foundation-Washington has a special friend in Nintendo of America.

Nintendo has, for 19 years, offered Starlight-Washington significant financial and in-kind support including office and warehouse space, graphic design, event leadership, strong employee participation and matching funds.

Thanks to Nintendo and many other donors, Starlight-Washington, during 2009-10, provided more than 243 Great Escape events serving 4,721 medically fragile children and family members, 207 Hospital Happenings events with 15,241 participants and 211 portable Fun Centers with more than 6,000 patient users per month.

The efforts of Starlight are “all about letting kids be kids and letting families be families,” in spite of health crises, explained the luncheon’s Master of Ceremonies, former KOMO weather reporter Todd Johnson.

Johnson, who’s now chief executive officer and executive producer of Point Across Media, as well as a Starlight board member and parent, noted, “There but for the grace of God go I. The coolest thing is to see the look on a kid’s face when the fun center is rolled into a hospital room.”

Equipped with DVD players and Nintendo games, the fun centers “roll right up next to children’s beds and help kids get through the ordeal of medical treatment,” explained Johnson — who then introduced a video message to Don James from movie star Jamie Lee Curtis.

“You are a great man, great father, great husband — and HOT!,” Curtis gushed, drawing laughs from the crowd.

“You’re my hero. I’ll do anything you ask me to do,” Curtis continued.

Johnson teased James, “How much did you have to pay Jamie Lee to say all that?”

The luncheon also honored more than 600 volunteers who gave more than 8,800 hours of service to Starlight-Washington in 2009-10, as well as featuring heartfelt testimonials from parents and kids who’ve benefitted from Starlight programs.

Among the speakers, a Starlight teen, Brianna Naslund, described the isolation she felt when she became ill, how she was able to connect with other hospitalized or homebound teens through Starlight, and how much it meant to her family when Starlight gave them the means to do simple things like going to the zoo.

“When you’re faced with piles of medical bills … or a trip to the zoo, it’s hard to pay,” said Naslund.

Trips to concerts, Mariners games, movie premieres and Ride the Ducks tours are among other gifts given to kids and families whose lives have been turned upside down by terrifying medical diagnoses.

Starlight board member Don Young remarked, “At this very moment, parents all over the region are hearing, ‘I’m so sorry, your child has cancer … cerebral palsy … cystic fibrosis. … Illness doesn’t care how old you are, it doesn’t care if holidays or birthdays are around the corner. We can’t take away the illness or the bad news but we can support them with a lifeline to help them get through. … Help us ease the life-changing blow of serious illness. Help children who have to endure more pain than most of us will know in a lifetime.”

To learn more about Starlight Children’s Foundation-Washington, or make a donation, call (425) 861-7827 or visit www.starlight-washington.org.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@redmond-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.redmond-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

Screenshot
King County weather: Dec. 3-5

Here is your King County area weather forecast for Dec. 3-5, 2021.… Continue reading

Keith Wagoner
Senator becomes first GOP candidate for secretary of state

Sen. Keith Wagoner will challenge Democrat Steve Hobbs, who was appointed to the statewide post in November

The Federal Way Performing Arts and Event Center is located at 31510 Pete von Reichbauer Way S. Olivia Sullivan/the Mirror
FEMA to send mobile COVID-19 vaccination unit to Western Washington

The mobile site is set to open Dec. 20 in Federal Way; additional locations to come.

Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Washington health officials discuss response to new COVID variant

Things will be handled with Omicron variant similar to the Delta variant.

Aftermath of crash at intersection of NE Woodinville Duvall Road and West Snoqualmie Valley Road (Screenshot from King County Sheriff's Office Facebook account)
Teen walks away from horrible crash in rural East King County

First responders found the overturned and crushed vehicle abandoned near Duvall.

File photo
As new COVID-19 variant looms, vaccination disparities linger in King County

County data shows gaps among age, geography and race.

King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn
King County Councilmember Dunn will challenge Rep. Kim Schrier for U.S. Congress seat

The current County Councilmember would be following in his late mother’s footsteps

Redmond Mayor Angela Birney (center) cuts the ceremonial ribbon (courtesy of City of Redmond)
Newly renovated Westside Park now open to public

The park includes new amenities such as walking trails, sports courts and a zip line.

Garbage at the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill in Maple Valley. FILE PHOTO
King County and Port of Seattle to collaborate on waste-to-fuel study

The study is aimed at identifying logistics of developing aviation fuel out of municipal garbage.

Most Read