With the Washington Capitals continuing their month-long #CapsFightCancer initiative for November, the team visited the pediatric ward of MedStar Georgetown University Hospital on Nov. 27. Players spent time visiting with patients ranging from infants to teenagers, and passed out gifts including hats, T-shirts, blankets and bobbleheads.
"I think it's important to give back," said Capitals defenseman John Carlson. "When you set out on an initiative like Hockey Fights Cancer, you can't just say it. You have to do it. It's important to be there for people, and the kids who were in the unit I visited today really enjoyed having us there whether they were hockey fans or not. Its all about being light and being fun and enjoying our time there."
As the Caps players made their way from room to room, the positive impact they were making was evident from the smiles on the patient's faces. The visit from the Capitals allowed the patients to put their illnesses behind them for a short time as they talked with the players about their favorite sports teams or music groups.
"One of the patients who the Capitals visited, his response to stress is he just shuts down," said Jessica Uze, a child life specialist at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. "When the doctors come in he doesn't talk. But when the Capitals come in he gets so excited and all the words he's been holding in just come out of him. It's a really, really cool thing to see."
In addition to the players who made the trips to the individual units, Evgeny Kuznetsov Dmitry Orlov and Alex Ovechkin participated in a Flashes of Hope photo shoot with cancer patients and their families. Flashes of Hope is a national nonprofit organization that raises money for pediatric cancer research and changes the way children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses see themselves through the gift of photography.
"When kids are in the hospital, in some ways all of the days are the same, and there's not really a lot to look forward to," said Uze. "But then something like this comes up and they know that on this day the Caps are coming to see them, and they have something to look forward to. Also, most of the people who these kids see each day are medical people, so they have doctors and nurses coming in all the time and they never know if that person is going to give them bad news or do something to them that hurts, and then the Caps come and its all fun and it makes them feel so special."
Players were wearing their #CapsFightCancer jerseys which are being auctioned off here. For more information about our Hockey Fights Cancer initiative, visit WashCaps.com/CapsFightCancer.