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Laughs 4 Life Creates Fun Space For Children’s of Mississippi Patients

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A shiny new space with blue skies, a rainbow and interactive digital boards for games, puzzles and drawing is now open for patients in the state’s only children’s hospital thanks to Laughs 4 Life.

The perennially sold-out comedy shows in Hattiesburg raised over $200,000 to create the Laughs 4 Life Smile Room on the fifth floor of Children’s of Mississippi’s Batson Tower. The renovated activity room will be staffed by child life specialists skilled in helping children cope with the challenges of illness and injury.

With a “sky’s the limit” theme, the room includes the Children’s of Mississippi rainbow logo across a blue mural featuring an airplane and clouds above a bank of NunoErin interactive light boards that change colors when touched.

Music, art and a nook for reading, coloring and interactive games in the Laughs 4 Life Smile Room will help reduce the anxiety children may face during their hospital stay.

The average happy adult smiles 40 to 50 times a day, said Laughs 4 Life founder Kent Oliver, “but the average child smiles 400 times a day. The smiles and laughter in this Laughs 4 Life Smile Room will help in reducing stress and helping recovery during a time when it may be tough to find joy.”

The Laughs 4 Life Smile Room includes Quinn’s Corner, a spot for reading and games named for Children’s of Mississippi patient Quinn Boudreaux of Hattiesburg, daughter of Oliver’s friends Jenny and Brad Boudreaux.

The 2024 Laughs 4 Life show will be held at the historic Saenger Theater in downtown Hattiesburg July 26. The 2023 show, featuring John Crist, was sold out within a day of tickets going on sale. Tickets for this year’s show will be available online May 10 and a headliner will be announced this spring.

Dr. Mary Taylor, Suzan B. Thames Chair and professor of pediatrics, thanked Oliver and Laughs 4 Life supporters for creating the Smile Room. “Community support like this is making a difference for all the children of Mississippi,” she said.

“There’s a lot of truth to the saying that laughter is the best medicine,” said Cara Williams, Children’s of Mississippi child life manager. “The Laughs 4 Life Smile Room will give our patients a place where they can do what children do best – laugh and play. We’re so thankful for Laughs 4 Life and to Kent Oliver for giving our patients a place for laughter.”

To date, Laughs 4 Life has distributed more than $1.1 million to beneficiaries including Children’s of Mississippi, the International Myeloma Foundation and the Forrest General Hospital Cancer Center. The annual event has included the comedic talents of Bill Engvall, Leanne Morgan, Tig Notaro and Nate Bargatze since its 2016 start.

The annual night of laughter got its start from a frightening diagnosis.

“The initial spark for Laughs 4 Life came in 2016, several months after I was diagnosed with an incurable cancer of the blood, multiple myeloma,” Oliver said. “I was recovering from a stem cell transplant and was joined by a good friend who reminded me how much laughter truly matters. For several months following my diagnosis, laughter had become noticeably absent in our household. It was difficult to find smiles during that time for me and my family, and we felt the need to do something intentional to prioritize laughter.”

More than eight years after the transplant and looking forward to this year’s Laughs 4 Life event, Oliver is living comfortably with maintenance therapy and enjoying life with his family in Hattiesburg.

“It has been a joy to put this event together each year to bring laughter to our community and to help our incredible partner organizations.”

Laughs 4 Life has committed to funding the renovation of a second Laughs 4 Life Smile Room on the Batson Tower’s fourth floor.

“Our sincere hope is that these unique spaces bring smiles and joy to the patients and families at Children’s of Mississippi for years to come,” Oliver said.

To support Children’s of Mississippi, please contact Suzanne Crell, major gifts officer, at 601-815-8778 or

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