CHICAGO — With curiosity and caution, patients from Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and their families spent their day getting an up close and personal look at large equipment in an event sponsored by the construction company Clayco.

“The kids are just digging in the dirt. What can be more fun than that?” Dr. Derek Wheeler, the Chief Medical Officer at Lurie Children’s Hospital, said.

It’s the second year for the event, called “Kids Dig,” which raises money for the hospital and offers dozens of children the chance to experience the inner workings of a construction site in a big sandbox put together by Clayco in the West Loop.

Dr. Wheeler says the event offers kids the opportunity to relax and have fun.

“They get to be a kid and, you know, forget about whatever struggles they’re dealing with right now from a medical standpoint,” Dr. Wheeler said. “And they can just come out here and dig, sit in the front loaders and the cranes and the bulldozers and honk the horns in the trucks, and they’re just having a great time.”

Stephanie Doyle works at the hospital and has two children who have been patients. She says her son couldn’t forget last year’s event.

“My son, this is his second year in a row coming, and last year he talked about it for weeks,” Doyle said. “He wore his Clayco vest to school for about two weeks, he wore it out to dinner that night. So he clearly had a blast.”

The first event raised $125,000 for Lurie in 2023 and organizers say it will be returning next year.