The New York Islanders annual holiday hospital visits are still a few weeks away, but that didn't stop Tom Kuhnhackl from making an extra trip to Cohen Children's Medical Center on Tuesday.
Kuhnhackl dropped by Cohen's for a surprise visit, handing out Islanders hats, t-shirts, Hockey Fights Cancer towels while visiting kids going through a tough time.
"Anytime you have a minute to put a smile on children's faces, you obviously want to take the time to do that," Kuhnhackl said.
The Islanders forward visited about 20 kids, from shy two-year-olds to teenagers looking to talk about Madden and Fortnite. It's an emotional experience to visit kids in the hospital, but a rewarding one for Kuhnhackl. He put a smile on the face of four-year-old Devante Booker when he gave her Islanders sunglasses and then let her dress him up.
Sometimes it's the families who need the most cheering up. Aiden Tucker's mom just had to tell Kuhnhackl that she was a life-long Islanders fan and had a John Tonelli game-used stick signed by the team. David Villarreal, whose two-year-old daughter Amelia has been in the hospital on an extended stay, impressed upon Kuhnhackl the power these visits can have on a family's morale.
"There's a lot of things that they are going through," Kuhnhackl said. "So whenever you see them happy, or their families happy, they don't have to think about the other things going on. It's nice."