By Jenelyn Russo / Special to AnaheimDucks.com
Caedmon Blake could never have imagined his day at CHOC Children’s last week would bring him face to face with some hockey heroes from his favorite sport.
The eight-year old had just arrived back to the patient room he shared with his younger sister, 14 month-old Quinn, after having completed a lengthy bone marrow procedure. He and his parents, Alison and Kurt, are hopeful that Caedmon’s 100 percent bone marrow match with Quinn will be a cure for her leukemia, which was diagnosed in August.
Still in his pajamas and wearing a big smile, Caedmon welcomed Anaheim Ducks players Getzlaf, Brandon Montour, Adam Henrique, John Gibson and Kiefer Sherwood as they stepped inside his room to talk hockey and spread some holiday cheer.
“That was awesome,” Caedmon said of the players’ visit. “I love hockey, it’s my favorite sport.”
As part of celebrating the holiday season, the club is hosting their annual CHOC Kits for Kids Drive. Each of the Ducks players spent time making room-to-room visits in several patient care areas at CHOC, delivering Wild Wingers Kids Club Kits and brightening the spirits of those brave patients who are in the hospital during the holidays.
For the Blake family, having the Ducks spend time with their son and daughter took the weight of a stressful situation off their minds, if even for a moment.
“It made a really hard, but important day, even more memorable and special,” said Alison Blake. “Especially for Caedmon, because he loves hockey so much, and he’s only here for one day. It felt like a special treat, something we couldn’t have given him.”
The impact moments like these can have on kids and their families who are in the midst of tough situations is not lost on Getzlaf and his teammates.
“It’s pretty cool as an athlete to be able to have that kind of effect on people,” Getzlaf said. “We learned a long time ago that it’s a part of our duty and part of our make up that we give back. For us, it’s a culture thing. The organization has been built that way since Henry and Susan (Samueli) took over. Given the opportunities, guys are more than willing to come over, spend some time and put some smiles on some faces.”
CHOC patient Stephanie Zamudio remembers watching the Mighty Ducks movies when she was a little girl. The 22-year old has been in treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) for several months and received recent news that she is testing negative for the cancer. Now working on regaining her strength in hopes of returning home by Christmas, Zamudio enjoyed chatting with the players.
“It’s very nice of them that they took the time out of their day to come visit us,” Zamudio said. “I’m already wearing the (Mighty Ducks) beanie, and it’s so comfy. I’ve never been to a hockey game, so that would be a good experience. I would love that.”
Ducks center Adam Henrique knows that providing a positive distraction for kids fighting life-threatening diseases goes a long way in helping boost their spirits.
“You see it when you go into the rooms,” Henrique said. “I think especially around the holidays too, it can be a tougher time for a lot of people. It’s always heartwarming and a good feeling when you can go in for a few minutes, hang out, take some pictures and see them smile and have fun.”
Four-year old Liam Katz was diagnosed with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia in May, the day after Mother’s Day, and has been fighting an intense battle filled with continual rounds of chemotherapy, steroid treatments and oral medications. He is currently at CHOC working through several side effects as he moves into his maintenance period. Though he was not feeling well when the players stopped by to visit him, he is looking forward to getting to a Ducks game when he is on the road to recovery.
“Bless them for taking the time,” said Liam’s mother, Andrea Katz. “I know they have busy schedules and families of their own. It’s hard being inside the walls of the hospital, so visits like these make them happy and allow them to forget about what they’re dealing with for a bit. It gives them a little lift. It really does help.”
For more information on the CHOC Kits for Kids Drive, where fans have the opportunity to purchase and donate Wild Winger Kids Club Kits that will be delivered to patients at CHOC during the month of December, visit wildwingerskidsclub.com.