The home runs are long-gone memories; the screaming crowds merely faint echoes in an empty stadium. But some three months after the end of the baseball season, Los Angeles Dodgers players were back in Southern California. Instead of taking the field, though, they took to the hospital floors at City of Hope and Childrens Hospital Los Angeles.
Current players Matt Kemp, Delwyn Young and James McDonald and Dodgers legend Kenny Landreaux visited patients on the third and sixth floors of City of Hope Helford Clinical Research Hospital on Dec. 4. The tour was part of the Dodgers’ commitment to ThinkCure, the organization’s official charity benefiting cancer research at City of Hope and Childrens Hospital.
“It’s a privilege to be able to do this,” said Janet Clayton, president of ThinkCure.
|From left, Dodgers legend Kenny Landreaux and players James MacDonald, Matt Kemp and Delwyn Young cheer on patient Eddie Ramirez. (Photo by Darrin S. Joy)|
Players handed patients bags with Dodgers blankets, magazines, caps, rally towels, stuffed bears and other gifts. They also chatted with patients young and old, as well as patients’ families.
Young, a second baseman and outfielder from Los Angeles, opened Elijah Mendez’s hospital room door carefully. “Is Elijah here? Hi, I’m Delwyn,” he said.
The young boy smiled shyly as Young and Kemp sat down beside him. Kemp picked up one of Mendez’s toy monsters. “What is this thing?” he asked, looking at the action figure’s sharp claws as the boy laughed. “If you saw one of these things around, would you run? I would!”
After some photographs with the boy’s family, the players left his room. Mendez took off his Dodgers cap and looked at its brim, now fresh with autographs. He set it aside and smiled.
In another room, 20-year-old Jorge Godinez rested comfortably against his pillow. Kemp, McDonald, Landreaux and Young filed into his room with a gift bag, only to find Godinez was a Padres fan. “I do go to the games with a couple of guys who are Dodgers fans,” Godinez assured them.
A plastic bag filled with a reddish-pink liquid hung on a pole above Godinez’s left shoulder. Anne Bourque, R.N., clinical nursing director of hematology/hematopoietic cell transplantation, motioned toward it. “You know, he’s getting his stem cell transplant right now,” she said.
“Right now?” Young asked.
“Right now,” Bourque nodded.
“Wow. I thought it was a more involved process than that,” Young said, looking at his team mates with wonder as they left the room. “It just looks like an IV bag.”
The visit was the second in 2008 by Dodgers players to City of Hope as part of ThinkCure. Launched in July 2007 by the Dodgers, the McCourt family (owners of the Dodgers), City of Hope and Childrens Hospital, ThinkCure is dedicated to raising funds for critical cancer research and ultimately finding a cure for cancer.