The holiday season became a little brighter for the patients at CHOC Children’s, as the Ducks took time to visit those receiving care this month at the pediatric hospital.
The players went room to room to meet with the kids and spread some holiday cheer by delivering Wild Wingers Kids Club Kits, as well as donated blankets and pillowcases, to several patient care areas, including the hospital’s Hematology/Oncolgy Unit and Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).
The Wild Wingers Kids Club Kits presented by WSS Shoes were donated as a part of the 10th annual Kits for Kids Donation Drive, where fans have the opportunity to purchase Kids Club Kits for the patients at CHOC during the month of December.
Having made several visits to CHOC to spend time with the families, Ducks forward Corey Perry looks forward to the opportunity each year to bring some joy to the kids.
|“It goes both ways. These kids are inspiring to us, how durable, how tough they are. And then, how compassionate they are," Bieksa said. |
“It’s humbling to come in here and see the kids and put smiles on their faces, especially over Christmas,” Perry said. “It’s uplifting, and it’s definitely something that we as a group love doing. I love being here.”
Perry understands the lasting impact a visit like this can have on families, even after their time with the kids concludes.
“You walk by the rooms after we’ve been in there and you can still hear them talking about it – who was there, what we talked about and the gifts they were given,” Perry said. “We know it keeps them going. It’s pretty special.”
Alex Diaz was wrapping up a week-long stay at CHOC for a chemotherapy treatment when Perry, Kevin Bieksa, Andrew Cogliano, Ryan Getzlaf, Carl Hagelin and Jakob Silfverberg stopped by his room to say hello and drop off a Kids Club kit.
Having been diagnosed with anaplastic ependymoma, a grade III malignant brain tumor he had removed this past August, the 11-year old Diaz was starstruck by the players.
“I was pretty excited to see them,” Diaz said of meeting the Ducks. “I wasn’t expecting it. I’m speechless.”
Diaz has already been through 33 sessions of radiation and has four cycles of chemotherapy treatments he will complete by April, but for a short while, he was able take his mind off of his current battles to chat with the players about things like watching hockey games and playing Xbox.
“I think it’s pretty cool that they would do this for me,” Diaz said.
Diaz’s mother, Mayra Oseguera, knows that brief visits like this are of great significance to her son and the other children who are at CHOC this holiday season.
“It’s something very good, that the players would take the time to come,” Oseguera said. “The kids can feel excited and forget what they are going through, just for a couple of minutes.”
Special Programs Coordinator for child life services at CHOC, Amber Chavez, says that whether the kids are fans of hockey or not, they are still thrilled to get the chance to meet professional athletes.
“These families look forward to it,” Chavez said of the players’ visits. “And it takes their minds off of things like pain pumps or upcoming procedures. The time the Ducks spend with the kids makes such an impression. It makes their whole stay worthwhile.”
|“It’s something very good, that the players would take the time to come. The kids can feel excited and forget what they are going through, just for a couple of minutes.” |
Although it was his first holiday visit to CHOC with the Ducks organization, Bieksa has been involved in this type of community outreach for a number of years and knows connecting with young fans can make all the difference.
“We’re here to create a distraction for them,” Bieksa said. “Obviously they’re going through a tough time, especially during the holidays.”
While visiting with the kids, Bieksa was particularly struck by their level of compassion, despite their own struggles.
“It goes both ways. These kids are inspiring to us, how durable, how tough they are. And then, how compassionate they are,” Bieksa said. “So many kids have asked us about our season and how we are doing. I just think that’s tremendous, because they are so selfless, and they’re thinking about other people, even though they are going through a tough time.”
Oseguera expressed that through the ups and downs of fighting cancer, moments like these are an encouragement and help to keep everyone’s spirits high.
“He’s stayed strong, and he’s never complained,” Oseguera said of her son’s fight against brain cancer. “The players made him feel so comfortable and welcome. We’re very grateful that there are people out there who care for these kids.”
For more information on the Kits for Kids Donation Drive and to donate, visit anaheimducks.com/choc.