Earlier this week, Athletes for Hope brought together a group of Olympic and Paralympic athletes from several sports, including archery, rugby, and track and field for a visit to Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, CA. Archer Mackenzie Brown, rugby players Ryan Carlyle, Emilie Bydwell, Kimber Rozier, and track and field athletes Blake Leeper, Jere Summers, and Reindell Cole participated in the visit.
“I grew up with a disability and was constantly in and out of the hospital,” Leeper said. “Being around the kids brought back a lot of memories – being at the hospital at a young age, missing school, not being around your friends. Spending time with them today was really important to me. The other athletes really enjoyed it – it brought them back to reality and let them know what is really important in life. When you have kids like that who are going through something so hard, our lives don’t seem so tough.
During the visit the athletes played with patients in Carley’s Garden, located in the hospital’s hematology oncology unit. The athletes played, created, spoke, and hung out with the patients and families while numerous games and art projects were also occurring throughout the visit.
“It was really a lovely afternoon for all!” Rady Children’s Hospital In-Kind Coordinator Belinda Lanois said. “The visit was great and we love working with Athletes for Hope because the visits are so much fun for both the staff and the patients.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?”
For the fourth consecutive year, Athletes for Hope held a national service week in honor of Dr. King. We received an incredible response from athletes across the country who felt empowered to give back during this important time. Pro and Olympic athletes from eight different sports, including basketball, bobsledding, boxing, cycling, skateboarding, soccer, track & field, and volleyball volunteered with charities across many causes and states around the United States. A few of this year’s MLK Jr. campaign athlete-charity connections include:
Bobsledder Jeremy Holm inspired youth at he discussed his journey to success with multiple juvenile detention centers in Salt Lake City, UT.
Skateboarder Doug Brown partnered with First Book in a social media campaign to raise awareness for children’s literacy while he also took the time to share his inspirational story with children at the Arlington Boys and Girls Club in Akron, OH.
US Women’s Soccer player Heather Mitts captivated her audience of nearly 100 children at The Community Partnership School in Philadelphia, PA.
Former NBA Star Etan Thomas and his family volunteered with First Book in a variety of activities including packing books into backpacks for underserved children in Washington, D.C.
Boxer Ann-Marie Saccurato brightened the day of many sick children at Palm Beach Children’s Hospital in Palm Beach, FL.
As part of Athletes for Hope’s annual September 11th national service day campaign to honor our nation’s fallen heroes, Sacramento Kings Forward Thomas Robinson took time out of his busy schedule to visit the Sacramento Children’s Home. After being drafted as the fifth pick in the 2012 NBA draft, Thomas attended the NBA Rookie Transition Program in which Athletes for Hope led a workshop focused on giving back to the community. Thomas then signed up as an AFH member and since then has been focused on increasing his involvement in the community. With AFH’s help, Thomas identified the Sacramento Children’s Home as a great organization to get involved with in his new city.
During his visit to the Sacramento Children’s Home, Thomas spent over an hour doing a variety of fun activities with the kids as they played music, shot around on the basketball court and hung out together. Thomas also made sure to sign autographs for all the children there.
“It was great – I really enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to coming back to visit with the kids again soon,” Thomas said.
Established in 1867, the Sacramento Children’s Home has always been deeply committed to the care of children and families. Their community-based, residential and educational programs address the issues of children, newborn to 21, and range from prevention of child abuse and parenting education, to acute trauma treatment.
For the fourth consecutive year, Athletes for Hope held a September 11th national service week to honor our nation’s fallen heroes. We received an incredible response from athletes across the country who felt empowered to give back during this important time. Pro and Olympic athletes from eight different sports, including basketball, bobsledding, football, gymnastics, skiing, soccer, tennis, and volleyball volunteered with charities across many causes and states around the United States. A few of this year’s 9-11 campaign athlete-charity connections include:
Sacramento Kings Forward Thomas Robinson did several fun activities such as playing music and basketball with a group of children at The Sacramento Children’s Home in Sacramento, CA
Olympic Bobsledder Jeremy Holm, Olympic Gymnast Missy Marlowe, and Olympic Freestyle Aerialist Fuzz Feddersen inspired children as they discussed their Olympic journeys at the Sugarhouse Boys and Girls Club in Salt Lake City, UT
Arena League Football player Dan Huff brightened the day of many children at Children’s Hospital of Saint Peters in New Brunswick, NJ
Led by Coach Carin Gabarra, 15 members of the US Women’s Navy Soccer Team helped children do their homework and send letters to our nation’s troops at the Annapolis Boys and Girls Club in Annapolis, MD.
US Women’s Soccer player Heather O’Reilly captivated her audience of children ranging from age 6-13 at the Wang YMCA of Chinatown in Boston, MA. Heather spoke about her recent journey to London and held a soccer clinic with the kids.
On March 8th, 2012 Athletes for Hope members Britney Henry, Arielle Martin, Brooke Cain, Connor Fields, Claire Laubauch, Allie Post, Kara Patterson, Akiba McKinney, Yvette Lewis, and Crystal Manning took time out of their busy training schedules to visit the San Diego Rady’s children hospital. Several of the players have done similar matches before and felt a great connection with the youth there.
During their visit, the athletes spent a few hours doing arts in crafts, playing games, and hanging out with the youth. The athletes were split into groups and went to either the Carley’s Garden or Auxiliary Garden, were they had the games and crafts set up. The kids were able to ask questions, take pictures, and get autographs. The kids had a fantastic time and can’t wait for the players to come back.
The director there was very thankful for the athletes coming, “I just love those Olympic athletes! I am proud to have these ladies and gentlemen representing the USA.”
For the second year in a row, Athletes for Hope members have united for our annual Hope for the Holidays campaign. The campaign is set up for athletes who might have some extra time during the holiday season to go out and give their time to the community. We received a high volume of responses from the AFH members and it turned out to be a great experience once again. Throughout our campaign Athletes for Hope set up over 61 connections across the country. Athlete members from a wide range of sports and teams participated in helping homeless shelters, writing letters to troops serving abroad, and visiting children’s’ hospitals.
Here are few examples of Athletes for Hope members making a difference this holiday season…
Daniel Merklinger (Milwaukee Brewers) visited The West Orange Boys and Girls Club to help Compose a letter to our troops for the holidays.
Shawn Kuykendall (MLS) visited the Homeless Children’s Playtime Project (HCPP) and hung out and participated with their scheduled holiday festivities.
Cat Whitehill (Atlanta Beat), Leslie Osborne (Boston Breakers), and Kristine Lilly (US National Soccer retired) – Boston Children’s Hospital
Julianne Sitch (Atlanta Beat) visited Children’s Memorial Hospital and kids at Gilda’s Club Chicago
Katie Bethke (Atlanta Beat) visited the B&G Club of Greater Chippewa Valley and Eau Claire YMCA (12/12) to do letter writing campaigns for our troops.
Noelle Pikus Pace (Olympic Skeleton) visited the Huntsman Cancer Institute and donated 200 hats with hair to patients there.
Carin Gabarra (Navy) visited the Annapolis Boys and Girls Club and worked with the kids to compose a letter to our troops for the holidays.
When asked about the importance of our troops, Carin Gabarra stated, “During the holiday season, it is very important to show our love and support of our troops, especially when many are far away from families and friends defending and protecting our freedom. I want to sincerely thank all the servicemen and servicewomen all over the world for the sacrifices they and their families make every day. We all know they are more than just our protectors…you are spouses, parents, children, siblings and friends. While we enjoy our families and friends during this holiday season, we all should think of them as they put their lives on the line so that strangers can walk in freedom. We owe them more than anything that can be put in words.”