|Blues defenseman Steve Wagner visits patients at Ranken Jordan Pediatric Specialty Hospital on Nov. 18 (Photo by Mark Buckner). |
Nothing could keep Adam Becvar from smiling on Tuesday.
Not the cerebral palsy he’s battled since he was born 21 years ago. Not the fact that he’ll be living at a children’s hospital for the foreseeable future. Not even the fact that he’s had 10 surgeries already and faces another one in February.
None of that could ruin an afternoon when Blues players stopped to visit him at Ranken Jordan Pediatric Hospital in Maryland Heights.
“Being able to make the kids’ day by just being here is an unbelievable feeling,” said Blues forward David Backes
, one of the eight players who spent time at the hospital on Tuesday. “It’s one of the best parts of the job.”
Nick Holekamp, Ranken Jordan’s chief medical officer, has worked at the hospital for more than nine years and doesn’t remember many days where the kids smiled so much.
“It makes a difference when stars in the community could be doing a lot of different things other than coming to visit kids at a place like this,” Holekamp said. “When kids are distracted by athletes and VIPs in the community, it makes their day. Every child who has been touched by the Blues today have been lit up with a smile.”
The Blues were there to attend a dedication of the Blues Fan Zone, a Blues-themed portion of the hospital designed to give children an escape from the battles they face each day. The Fan Zone allows patients to decorate their own Blues pennant and play with hockey toys to promote emotional and cognitive development.
The Fan Zone was made possible with a $200,000 donation by the St. Louis Blues 14 Fund, the team’s charitable trust.
Ranken Jordan is the only pediatric specialty hospital in Missouri and treats children with a wide variety of injuries and illnesses, including brain injuries, paralysis, burns and more. The building’s structure resembles abstract art more than it does a hospital.
“It doesn’t feel or look like a hospital and kids and families recognize that right away,” Holekamp said. “They know it’s a getting better place rather than a place to be sick, and it really helps them get better faster.”Patrik Berglund
, D.J. King, David Perron
, T.J. Oshie
, Roman Polak
, Yan Stastny and Steve Wagner were among the players who spent the afternoon visiting kids. Assistant Coach Brad Shaw and former player Bruce Affleck were also in attendance.
“It really puts everything in life in perspective,” Backes said. “These kids have these huge battles in front of them every single day, all night, 24 hours a day. We love winning games and we love doing well, but in the overall perspective of things, this is what it’s all about. Helping people and giving them a better quality of life.”
Holekamp agrees, saying everyone at Ranken Jordan is thankful for the Blues’ donation.
“(The Blues) are on the same page with us,” he said. “It’s not about how sick you are, it’s about how much better you can get. The Blues’ support in that really makes a difference. To hope, see kids smile again, see kids play again: that’s what does it for us.”