|Bruno, Guerin, Comrie, Campoli and Ricky with Brandi |
Another wonderful Islanders tradition took place Monday afternoon. With the Islanders not competing again until Wednesday, when they host the Buffalo Sabres at the Nassau Coliseum, the entire team paid their annual visits to local area hospitals to cheer up those kids who are not fortunate enough to be at home during the holidays.
With hundreds of gifts in their possession, thanks to donations provided by the Islanders Children's Foundation and the players, as well as the shopping skills of the Guerins, Hilberts, Karla Sillinger and Kimberly Dey, the players brought some well deserved smiles to kids all across Long Island.
At Schneider Children's Hospital in New Hyde Park, Bill Guerin, Rick DiPietro
, Mike Comrie, Chris Campoli and Bruno Gervais spent over two hours passing out toys, signing autographs and bringing cheers to dozens of children.
"These visits are always a special time for us," said DiPietro. "If you ask all of the guys this is one of their favorite events to come to because you get to put some smiles on the kids' faces and pass out some toys. You get a chance to brighten up their days a little bit."
One such child who had a huge smile on his face was a boy named Matthew, who went toe-to-toe with Bruno in a game of Connect Four. After a long heated battle, Matthew was victorious, while Bruno demanded a rematch.
"I was really trying to win," admitted Bruno. "Matthew was just too smart for me. I'll get him next time."
|Sillinger, Martinek, and Jackman at Winthrop University Hospital |
Eastward in East Meadow at the Nassau University Medical Center, Bryan Berard, Marc-Andre Bergeron and Wade Dubielewicz were making their ways through the halls of their own hospital.
With Bergeron and Dubie being recent dads it was both heartening to help bring some joy to the children's lives, but also sad to see them having to spend time in the hospital at such a young age.
"It's tough to see the kids in the state they are in, but it's nice to stop by and bring a smile to their face," reflected Bergeron.
At the South Nassau Communities Hospital Andy Hilbert and Richard Park returned for the second year in a row. There they teamed up with Little Saint Nick Foundation gift provider, Ray Mohler, who helps donates toys to other children in need.
Back at Schneider's, the players met a girl named Hannah from Mattituck, who finished chemotherapy that day and was sporting a celebratory sweatshirt that many people at already signed. The players added their names to the colorful shirt.
"Hannah was very excited to meet the players," said her mother, Kim "We were just on her way out, but she wanted to see the guys. She's usually very quiet, but she was very talkative with them because she was so excited to meet them."
This was just one of many feel-good stories today thanks to the players, who wanted to stay even longer to add just one more smile to their list.
|Hilbert and Park with Ray Mohler Joseph Quagliata at South Nassau Communities Hospital |
"It's really great coming to the hospital to visit these kids, especially during the holidays," said Comrie. "For us to brighten their day and see them smile, means a lot to us."Below is the list of hospitals and the players that visited.Schneider Children's Hospital
- Rick DiPietro
, Chris Campoli, Bill Guerin, Bruno Gervais, Mike ComrieNassau University Medical Center
- Wade Dubielewicz, Marc-Andre Bergeron, Bryan BerardWinthrop University Hospital
- Mike Sillinger, Radek Martinek, Sean Bergenheim, Tim JackmanStony Brook Hospital
- Sean Bergenheim, Josef Vasicek, Freddy MeyerGood Samaritan Hospital
- Brendan Witt, Andy Sutton, Trent HunterHenry Viscardi School: The National Center for Disabilities
- Ruslan Fedotenko, Blake ComeauSouth Nassau Communities Hospital
- Richard Park, Andy HilbertSearch "hospital" in the Islanders TV console to see video from last year's hospital visits.