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Blues Make Annual Visit to Hospitals

by Chris Pinkert / St. Louis Blues
Nick Sotiropoulos got a surprise visit from several members of the Blues on Monday during the team's annual children's hospital visit (Photo by Mark Buckner).
On a night he had tickets to the game, Nick Sotiropoulos was admitted to Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital and had to watch the Blues play from his hospital bed.

Disappointed he couldn’t watch the game in person, the 15-year-old keeps his spirits high despite being stuck in the hospital since early December as he battles cancer for the second time in his life.

And because he couldn’t go see the Blues, the Blues came to see him.

“You come to the hospital to see the kids over the holidays and the struggles they go through in everyday life, just to be who they are,” said Blues defenseman Barret Jackman, who spent several hours Monday visiting children at the hospital. “We’re very fortunate we get to play a sport and are able to do it. We come here and see a smile on these kids’ faces every once and awhile. It makes it definitely worth a little bit of time.”

Each year, just before the holidays, Blues players spend the afternoon visiting kids at various children’s hospitals in the St. Louis area. On Monday, players made visits to Cardinal Glennon, St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Ranken Jordan Pediatric Specialty Hospital.

 Hospital Visits
Blues players often make several hospital visits throughout the year, but the entire team makes an annual visit to local hospitals just before the holidays.
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“We’re just trying to go around and see as many kids as we can and brighten their day a little bit,” said forward Jay McClement. “I’ve been fortunate to do it the last few years and it’s something you look forward to. It’s great to try, if anything, to put a smile on the kids’ faces.”

Nick was all smiles when the players stopped by his room to say hello, take a few pictures and deliver autographed lunch boxes and DVDs. For just a few moments, he could forget about the uphill battle he faces every day.

“It’s really exciting,” he said. “You see that they are taking their time to be with me and ask how I’m doing. It’s really nice.”

“People don’t actually realize the impact they have on these kids,” said Jody Sotiropoulos, Nick’s mom. “To have a player actually take time and interest to visit these kids is monumental. It lifts their spirits, it’s something they can actually hold as their own and can go back and talk to brothers and sisters and say, ‘I actually met this person.’”

But the kids aren’t the only ones to get something out of the hospital visits. The players say they feel good knowing that their presence can help lift the spirits of a sick child.

“I think you get a lot of enjoyment and fulfillment out of it. I feel pretty fortunate with what I get to do everyday, so I try to spread some of that to the kids and brighten their day,” said McClement.

“I think it’s important for any athlete to help out whichever way we can.”

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