June 30, 2015 | by Teri Silvi
Triple Crown winning jockey Victor Espinoza visited City of Hope last week to connect with the patients he’s supported throughout his career.
Espinoza brought toys, books and several American Pharoah hats to the young patients anxiously waiting to meet him.
For leukemia patient Rhys Hunn, 13, this was her second time seeing Espinoza. He visited with her after her bone marrow transplant in 2014, and even though she’s in outpatient treatment right now, she wanted to be there to see him one more time.
“She was thrilled to see him,” her mother Kathy said, “even though she hates the hospital, and just being on this floor again. It’s hard for her but she was excited to come back and see him again. This meant so much to her.”
Espinoza exchanged numbers with her and Karah Casas and other parents, and invited them to come visit him at the race track anytime before moving along to individual patient rooms to visit with children ages 4 to 11, each fighting a different variation of the deadly disease.
“The more I see them and the more I come here, I try to help more,” he said. If I can help somebody and I can improve their lives, just a little bit, then that’s the only reason I do it.”
“Victor’s support and generosity have been a tremendous gift to City of Hope,” said President and CEO Robert W. Stone. “More important, his personal commitment and involvement have made a real difference in the lives of our patients, particularly our pediatric patients.”
Although this was the first time Espinoza donated his entire share of the purse, he has been giving a percentage of his proceeds to City of Hope for years.