It’s not every day that a child with a serious illness has something to smile about. But thanks to a few players from the Houston Astros, the kids of Scott & White’s Children’s Hospital had a chance to forget about being sick and focus on having fun.
Players J.R. Towles and Michael Bourn, bullpen assistant Javier Bracamonte, along with new Astros manager Brad Mills, visited the children of Scott & White on Jan. 20, bringing signed baseball cards and a thrill for the kids.
“The kids loved it,” said Jaclan Meeks, child life specialist. “I think the kids and their families really appreciated it because it brought smiles to their faces and made their days.”
The Astros have been coming to Scott & White every January for more than eight years, caravanning more than three hours before the beginning of their spring training to spend time with the children.
“Houston isn’t that close, so they had to drive a while to get here,” Ms. Meeks said. “I think that makes the kids feel even more special to know that they came such a long way to come meet with them.”
For many of the children, meeting a major league baseball player is a chance of a lifetime.
“I went over to the playroom after the Astros had been there and one of the children had a big smile on his face and motioned me over to show me his autographed cards,” said Jan Upchurch, child life supervisor. “His mother said he’d been frowning all day up until he met the players. They really make an impact with a small thing.”
Ms. Upchurch said unlike some of the groups that come to volunteer their time with the children, the Astros really want to invest in the lives of the children and their families and aren’t asking for publicity.
“They don’t just say hi from a distance, they sit down on the floor with the kids,” Ms. Upchurch said. “We had (a player) last year who got right in there and was finger painting with the children.”
Not only do the children enjoy the visit from the players, but Scott & White Children’s Hospital staff also appreciate time with the Astros.
“For us it’s a thrill to be that up close and personal with celebrities of sort, but the real excitement comes from seeing our patients so happy and cared for.”