Arlington, Va. -
Two years ago Sam Greene was reading the sports section of The Washington Post when an article on his favorite team captured his attention.
The piece profiled former Capitals goaltender Jose Theodore’s experience with premature birth and the subsequent loss of his infant son, Chace, in June 2009.
Born prematurely in June 1999 at Shady Grove Hospital in Rockville, Md., Greene immediately felt a special connection to the netminder, who established Saves for Kids prior to the start of the 2010-11 season as a fundraising program to honor his son’s life and benefit the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Children’s National Medical Center.
Theodore’s performance, statistics and pledges from the community eventually resulted in a $45,191.01 donation to the hospital as well as an inspired fan.
“I read [The Post article] and thought, ‘that’s what I want to do,” said Greene.
Recently Greene organized Walks for Kids, a charity walk in the spirit of Theodore’s foundation, for his bar mitzvah project.
Required to perform a mitzvah – a good deed – as part of his Jewish faith, Greene developed Walks for Kids because it allowed him to combine his love of the Capitals with the chance to benefit sick newborns and infants hospitalized in the NICU at Children’s National.
“What it means is that more people who weren’t as fortunate as I was will get the chance to have a full lifetime,” said Greene.
The sixth-grader began organizing the event early this year by writing a letter to family and friends that described the mitzvah project, explained Theodore’s experience with premature birth and invited participation in Walks for Kids.
Greene’s effort culminated on May 6, when he and 44 friends and family members gathered at the Rio Center in Gaithersburg, Md., for a mile-long charity walk, which also featured music, games, giveaways and an appearance by the Red Rockers.
Walks for Kids resulted in $3,183 for the NICU, surpassing Greene’s goal of raising up to $2,500.
The support from friends and family members was meaningful to Greene, who will celebrate his bar mitzvah next month.
“It’s been overwhelming in a positive way,” he said. “So many people have given so much to us and it really is touching to know how many people will support you if you really put your mind to something.”
Throughout his project, Greene wanted to raise awareness for premature birth, a cause he hopes resonated with his supporters.
“I hope they [learned] that there are people out there who aren’t as fortunate as me or who aren’t as fortunate as them and that by supporting NICU they’re supporting the children for the rest of their lives,” he said.
Theodore, currently a goaltender with the Florida Panthers, is among those who were warmed by Greene’s project.
“It’s definitely special and that’s why my heart will always be in D.C.,” said Theodore. “The fans and people were and are so generous. I am really moved and touched.”