Six-year-old Tanner Coe’s face lit up the moment Dan Hinote walked in the room.
Coe had been lying in bed all day, bored and cycling through the channels of the mounted television set at St. Louis Children’s Hospital on Monday before Hinote, along with several of his Blues teammates, stopped by for a visit.
|Dan Hinote plays an Xbox game with Tanner Coe, 6, who was helping his brother Ryan, 14, in his fight with AML leukemia (Photo by Mark Buckner). |
“It was neat. It helped cheer him up,” said Michele Coe, Tanner’s mother.
Tanner was donating stem cells to his 14-year old brother Ryan, who was diagnosed in 2006 with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia. Ryan recently completed three rounds of chemotherapy and was cancer-free, but needed a bit of a boost to help his body recover.
Tanner, it turns out, was a perfect match and more than willing to help his older brother.
“Tanner’s been a real trooper,” his mother said.
It seems fitting, then, that Hinote and his teammates would show up and present Tanner with a camouflage T-shirt bearing the logo of ‘Hinote’s Heroes,’ a charitable organization started by Hinote to help improve hospital conditions for children who are battling cancer and their families.
On Monday, Hinote donated several laptops and Xboxes to St. Louis Children’s Hospital so that kids like Tanner and Ryan wouldn’t be so bored if they have to make another trip to the hospital.
“If we can keep the kids happy at all times, as much as they can be in this environment, then I think overall, you’re going to see kids improve,” Hinote said. “If that means having laptops, Xboxes, DVD players, trips or tickets to a game, if we can help keep the morale on a higher level, I think their treatments will work that much better.”
Destiny Allen, a 12-year-old from Wood River, Illinois with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, said that having computers and video games can be a huge help in taking a child’s mind off their treatments.
“It can keep them occupied, like whenever people get blood transfusions, sometimes they don’t like to see it,” she said.
Allen has undergone 2 ½ years worth of chemotherapy and expects to receive another year’s worth of treatment. She has made more than 15 trips to the hospital since her diagnosis but she intends to be cancer free by time she gets to high school, where she hopes to participate on the cheerleading squad and become a teacher after graduation.
These are the stories that really drive Hinote to make an impact in the community.
|Hinote brought a few teammates and the mascot with him on his visit to St. Louis Children's Hospital (Photo by Mark Buckner). |
“It’s truly an inspiration to see how great these people are fighting this terrible cancer,” Hinote said. “They’re upbeat, they’re happy and they’re great about what little life they have or may not have, and they live day to day.”
Hinote’s energy and passion for the game of hockey are evident each time he steps onto the ice for a shift with the St. Louis Blues, but his energy and passion off the ice probably better defines him.
Before signing with the Blues, Hinote was a member of the Colorado Avalanche and frequently visited Denver Children’s Hospital, where his sister, Missy, works in the oncology department. During those visits, Hinote saw that there wasn’t much for children or their families to do but sit in the room, trying to pass the time and watch TV throughout the entire day. As a result, he started Hinote’s Heroes with the hope that he can improve the conditions of hospital visits, both for the children and their families.
“So many times, we give money to a charity and then you never really know what that money does. We wanted to be different,” Hinote said. “Your $25 bought an Xbox game for a kid who is playing in his room, totally forgetting that he has to do chemo in an hour and a half.”
For now, donating Xboxes and laptops are about the best the organization can do. But Hinote has goals for the organization on a grander scale. He envisions getting an entire play room at a hospital, hiring tutors for kids who are missing considerable amounts of time in the classroom, and even purchasing a house near the hospital so that parents can stay close to their children and not have to worry about the cost of hotels.
And while all of that is still a bit down the road, Hinote is doing his part to bring smiles to many of the kids’ faces today. He spent more than three hours talking with kids and presenting them with temporary Blues tattoos, team calendars, stickers and more.
“Here they are, battling a tough disease, yet they’ve got a smile on their face and they’re happy,” Hinote said. “It helps you put life into perspective. How can I complain about the air conditioning not working in my house when there are so many other things to worry about in the world?
“If we can come in here for a second and just brighten their day up, then we’re very happy to do it.”