Our History

The early 1980s witnessed the rise of philanthropic commitment to pediatric care. As a pioneer in this humanitarian endeavor, Starlight is proud to take its place among beloved charities supporting this critical issue.

Deeply rooted in the entertainment industry, Starlight was founded in 1982 by fourth generation filmmaker Peter Samuelson and his cousin, actress Emma Samms. When they were young, Emma’s little brother Jamie was diagnosed with aplastic anemia and tragically lost his battle against the disease.

Years later, Emma visited a young boy named Sean in the hospital who was seriously ill with a brain tumor. Like many children around the world, Sean had a dream of going to Disneyland, so Peter and Emma fulfilled his wish and brought him and his mom from London to Los Angeles.

Starlight originally launched as a wish granting organization and rapidly expanded its services to include an extensive menu of unique, groundbreaking and trendsetting family-centered programs. Starlight has maintained its leadership in helping families with hospitalized children cope with the challenges of a medical journey through programs such as Starbright World®, the first-ever online social network for teens with chronic and life-threatening medical conditions and their siblings, and the newly debuted Starlight Wish Lists, a cutting edge technology platform that enables donors to fill specific unmet hospital needs directly and efficiently.

For more than 30 years, Starlight has been a leading global charity improving the life and health of kids and families. We partner with experts and innovators in healthcare, entertainment and technology to create a unique blend of family-centered services from hospital to home. Today, Starlight partners with more than 1,750 healthcare facilities and major pediatric hospitals around the world, serving millions of children every year.

 

1982 

First Starlight wish granted by Peter Samuelson and Emma Samms.

1983 

Starlight Children's Foundation incorporated on February 2nd.

1985

Starlight opens in New York City. 

1986

Starlight opens in Chicago.

1986

Starlight opens in London.

1988

Starlight opens in Sydney.

1989

Starlight opens in Toronto & Quebec.

1990

Starlight opens its first Starlight Express Room, later known as Starlight Site.

1991

Starbright Foundation is founded by Peter Samuelson and Steven Spielberg to harness the power of technology and the entertainment industry to create projects that empower seriously ill children and teens struggling with prolonged illness.

1991

The Starlight Fun Center mobile entertainment unit is launched in pediatric facilities to provide distractive entertainment and therapeutic play.

1995

Starbright World online community, the first-ever private social network for teens with chronic and life-threatening medical conditions and their siblings, is launched through Starlight by Steven Spielberg, General H. Norman Schwarzkopf and Peter Samuelson.

1996

Starlight Center opens at Schneider Children’s Medical Center of Israel.

2001

Explorer Series® is launched as interactive multimedia program that educates children about medical procedures and illnesses.

2001

PC Pals® is launched, providing laptops for pediatric patients.

2002

Quest for the Code®  is launched as an online asthma game helping children and teens learn how to manage their asthma, find coping tips and get advice.

2003

The X-Men® in: Life Lessons is launched as a comic book, helping teens and pre-teens recover emotionally from a serious burn injury and cope with teasing, staring, and ridicule as they re-enter society.

2004

Starlight Children’s Foundation merges with Starbright Foundation.

2004

Coping with Chemo® launched as a series of online animated web episodes that help children and teens with cancer learn how to cope with the challenges of having cancer, and undergoing chemotherapy and other treatments.

2007

Get Fit, Get Right® is launched as an online program designed to reduce obesity in teens and help prevent type 2 diabetes.

2011

Starbright World goes global inviting children to become members from countries where Starlight operates around the world.

2012

Starlight launches the Starlight Tablet, a critical resource for healthcare professionals to support the ongoing needs of kids while in the hospital.

2013

The Starbright World online community re-launches with an exciting new design and improved functions to enhance overall user experience. The private global social network offers features in English, Spanish and French, with the capability to expand to 16 languages.

2013

Starlight launches world’s first technology platform that brings together donors to fund unmet needs of healthcare facilities to improve pediatric care.