After practice on Wednesday, the Blue Jackets headed to Nationwide Children's Hospital for one of their favorite days of the year. Once the Blue Jackets arrived at the hospital, they broke into groups and took over an hour to meet with various patients hoping to accomplish one thing; lift the spirits of children facing the hardest of circumstances.
The Jackets also carried Boich Courage Kits with them, containing doll-size replicas of Stinger, baseball hats from the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation's Hats for Heroes program and a Blue Jackets' pennant.
"You're trying to go there to make them smile and take away from any pain they are going through at the time and get their minds off whatever it is," CBJ Captain Nick Foligno said. "The way that these kids go about their lives facing some of the toughest things that they are going to go through and they still have a smile on their face. They still want to be kids, they laugh -- they are just a joy to be around and I am glad that we do it."
The players who have participated in the trip for multiple years will be the first to explain that the joy is felt on both sides.
"Obviously they are going through some pretty hard times," defenseman Zach Werenski said. "It's pretty cool to go over there and see how happy they are, it makes us feel good too."
"The lift you get from the kids is probably the coolest thing," Foligno said. "You think about what they are going though, but somehow they give you a lift, too."
Each and every patient is a warrior fighting in their own way and part of the goal is to make sure the kids know they aren't fighting alone. CBJ forward Cam Atkinson knows the visit is important to more than the patients.
"It's very important. Anytime we can put smiles on kids' faces, I think it goes a long way for them and their families," Atkinson said.