Video: COMMUNITY | Oilers Hospital Visits
The Edmonton Oilers are helping to make the season bright for children who won't be spending the holidays at home. Every year, the team visits children at Edmonton-area hospitals and care facilities.
"Hi how are you? It's good to see you again," said Oilers Forward, Matt Hendricks.
"Good! I finally got the heart!" Exclaimed Elise Kwan. "It's only been a month post-transplant."
"Good for you, I'm happy for you," replied Hendricks.
Elise is a familiar face for many players who visit the Stollery Children's Hospital year after year.
"[It's great] to see a girl like Elise who I've seen multiple times here and she's finally got her new heart and she's doing very well," said Hendricks. "Her biggest goal is to make it to a game at the new arena so, we're all pulling for her. She looks awesome, she looks healthy and to see her smile, it's very contagious."
As Elise made her rounds collecting signatures on her jersey from the players, she explained to Oscar Klefbom that she's "been doing this for four years" after he commented on how many names she's already collected.
Many families can spend years in the hospital with their sick child. These team visits are something the kids, and families, can look forward to.
"It's so much fun, you can see the parents are getting just as big a kick out of it as the kids," explained Suzanne Pescod, Marketing & Communications Director at the Ronald McDonald House - Northern Alberta Director of Communications. "A lot of our families here spend quite a bit of time in the hospital, I'm talking 10, 14, 16 hours. So for them to come here, for them to laugh and enjoy and make memories with their own kids, it's just a great day and the Oilers are what makes this possible."
For new dad Cam Talbot, the visit hits a little closer to home.
"Especially seeing the parents, I can't imagine what they're going through in times like this, so it really puts things into perspective for me… I just hope these kids can recover from whatever they're dealing with and have a good holiday," said Talbot.
The team split up between five facilities this year: Stollery Children's Hospital, Ronald McDonald House - Northern Alberta, Royal Alexandra Hospital, Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital and University of Alberta Hospital.
Between decorating cookies, giving gifts, hearing Christmas lists, and colouring, Zack Kassian said the visit was fun and took him back to when he was a kid.
"The build up to [Christmas] is pretty exciting, and to wonder what Santa is going to get you, it's a pretty exciting time of year," explained Kassian. "All the kids in here have so much excitement that it gets you excited."
The Edmonton Oilers are actively involved in community events throughout the year, but many admit, these hospital visits are one of their favorites events.
"It's a great feeling to come back, there's a special place in our hearts for these kids," said Hendricks.