For me personally, I think this is probably the most fun thing we do,” said Stars forward Steve Ott
. “It’s obviously some pretty touching stuff, and you realize how blessed you are, especially during Christmas time. It’s tough when you see little kids spending Christmas in the hospital rather than at home where they definitely belong. It’s great when we can go in there and make the visit as pleasant as we can and put that smile on their face throughout the holidays.”
The entire team talked and played games with kids suffering various ailments. Air hockey, the Wii and videos on YouTube were big draws for the players and patients. The Stars also handed out autograph cards, blankets and beanie babies, and players even made special visits to a few rooms for patients who weren’t well enough to be in the playrooms.
“Being healthy, having three healthy kids at home, it certainly is a blessing,” said goaltender Marty Turco. “Today’s visit certainly does more for the person and soul than anyone can imagine. We cherish these times and the moments we spend with these kids here today. We don’t just leave here and forget about them, they stick with us for a long time. They make a more lasting impression on us than we ever could on them.”
The visit came as a surprise to many of the children. Patient Jordan Nguyen said he didn’t know until this morning that he would get to hang out with the Stars. He said the highlight of his day was playing a game on the Wii with Stars defenseman Trevor Daley
“He beat me pretty bad, but it doesn’t matter though because it was really fun,” Nguyen said with a huge smile. “It was a really awesome experience. I mean, I’ve never done anything like this before. I hope I never forget this.”
Fellow patient Jared Hanson concurs. He enjoyed the visit and challenged one of his favorite players, Krys Barch, to an intense game of shooting hoops.
“I just think it’s great they come to visit,” he said. “Modano, Ott, Barch, I like all of them. I got all of their autographs - it was awesome! It’s something I’ll remember for a very long time.”
The families of the patients are thankful athletes take time out of their busy schedules to visit their children. Although the Hansons live more than four hours away, if they are ever in Dallas during hockey season, they make sure to take Jared to a game.
“It’s so cool that they’re here, he’s a big hockey fan,” said Jared’s father Mike. “When he was here last year in the hospital, he’d never been to a hockey game. We got a few tickets to go after he was out and an outpatient, and we went to about 15 games. When Modano walked in, his eyes got big. He likes Steve Ott
, too. He’s tickled pink. It’s pretty cool that these guys come do this stuff in their off time. It makes these kids’ days.”
Not all of the patients knew who their special visitors were, but they were excited none-the-less. Jamie Benn
showed some of the children online video clips from Stars games and by the end of the day, kids made sure their nurses knew when the next Stars game would be so they could watch their new friends on television.
“It’s fulfilling that when the day’s over, you can say that hopefully you made an impact on some little kid’s life,” said fan-favorite Mike Modano. “It’s nice to take their mind off what they’re going through here and their families and kind of give them a break. Hopefully we can make this time of the year a little easier to get through.”