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by Maggie Goble / Arizona Coyotes
The Coyotes recently were invited to visit the Phoenix Children’s Hospital Camp Rainbow in Prescott. Without hesitation, defenseman Derek Morris jumped at the opportunity. On Aug. 5, Derek and a few team staff members embarked on the trip north for a very special afternoon.

Derek Morris (right) visits with a young camper.
The group arrived at Friendly Pines Camp in Prescott just in time for Derek to join the young campers for archery, basketball, pet therapy, fishing, woodworking and more. Rachael Lyddon, the Camp Planning and Operations Manager at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, led him around the camp and introduced him to the kids.

Morris posed for photos, signed autographs and chatted with nearly all of the young campers. Some kids on the basketball court were pleasantly surprised when their water break was interrupted by a visit by a professional athlete. The kids talked with Derek as if they’d been friends for years, sharing their plans for that evening’s Tribute to Hollywood Dance with him and asking him questions about what it’s like to be a hockey player.

Archery and pet therapy were next on the tour, with more pictures and smiles from the kids. Derek signed his player cards for the campers, and he even received some trading cards from pet therapy dogs, Ranger and Finnegan, in return. As the groups were getting ready to switch activities, Derek was invited to join the fishing group. Derek, who is an avid fisherman, quickly hopped into a van and headed to the lake for some angling.

Derek Morris (right) visits with a young camper.
The lake at Friendly Pines offered a beautiful landscape for such an amazing experience. Derek grabbed a fishing rod and made himself at home next to the kids. They opened their hearts to him, and were so appreciative that he took the time to come spend time with them. He helped them bait poles, cast lines, and pulled lake scum from their hooks. More than anything, he took the time to talk with the kids, and really got to know them. Derek is a genuine person, and it showed, which meant the world to the kids.

Derek received a couple of invites to that night's dance but he politely declined and headed back home to Phoenix.

“These kids are truly inspiring,” he said. “I love going to these events because it is great to see smiles on faces and it really puts everything into perspective. It’s great to see what organizations, such as the Phoenix Children’s Hospital, are doing for kids around Arizona.”
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