RELATED: Blues Holiday Hospital Visit Photo Gallery
ST. LOUIS - T.J. Oshie knows all too well what it’s like to be a worried parent in a children’s hospital.
Back in March, he was one.
Oshie’s daughter was born with gastrochisis, a condition in which her intestines ended up outside of her body at birth. The condition is not typically life-threatening, and today Lyla is doing quite well.
But those early nervous moments are something no parent can ever prepare for.
“I was sitting there tired, not sleeping, hoping (my) child got better,” Oshie said. “This hits home for a me a little bit.”
Oshie and the rest of his Blues teammates spread out to visit four St. Louis area children’s hospitals on Wednesday afternoon. Players met with patients and their families, posed for photos, signed autographs and helped bring smiles to faces that haven’t had many in recent days.
“It’s really inspiring,” Blues forward Chris Porter said. “These kids are so strong. It makes you reflect when you leave. You think you’re having a bad day and you come in here and you see what these kids are going through with their families, it really makes you respect what they deal with. Anything we can do to help brighten their day is great.”
Players visited St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, Mercy Children’s Hospital and Ranken Jordan.
“It’s a lot of the guys' favorite time of year,” said Blues defenseman Barret Jackman. “We’re blessed we get to play a sport for a living. You sometimes forget the struggles that some kids have. Having to spend the holidays in the hospital is a tough thing for them to do. These kids have fight in them that we wish we had on the ice. To see what these kids go through is an amazing motivation for us.”
Alex Pietrangelo and Maxim Lapierre helped kids with their artwork at Mercy. Steve Ott took photos with patients who wanted to show off their bicep muscles and Kevin Shattenkirk gave away prizes during BINGO at St. Louis Children’s.
Christy Merrell, who helps kids regain their ability to overcome physical and mental hurdles through music, said these days are always the best.
"It’s one of my favorite days when the Blues come to hospital," Merrell said. “They’re just so real. They come in, they’re regular guys with big hearts. The things they do for our kids here at the hospital is pretty amazing.
“Today we had a little boy that hasn’t had very many good days, if any at all lately. The minute he saw Ryan (Reaves) and Jay (Bouwmeester) walk in, he totally forgot he was in the hospital,” Merrell added. “Grandma’s crying and the family is overwhelmed with good emotions. Those two guys were able to give their child (a smile) they probably would have never had in that moment.”
For the players, spreading a little holiday cheer is what it’s all about.
“Whether they know who you are or not, having a visitor at this time of year is good for the kids to see,” Jackman said. “I go home and I hug my kids after these visits. It makes you very grateful for health and a lot of things that everybody takes for granted."