Teaming up with MedStar Health, players with the Washington Capitals decked the halls and spread holiday cheer with sick patients at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. Donning Santa hats and elf ears, and accompanied by team mascot Slapshot, the 2017-2018 Stanley Cup champions delivered team gear to inpatient units where children will be hospitalized for the holidays and worked on festive art projects with children and their families in the outpatient clinic.
“We bring the kids a smile, that’s what it’s all about,” said team captain Alex Ovechkin, wearing reindeer antlers. “We really appreciate these kids and their families supporting us and we try to support them.”
In an assist by Tracy’s Kids and the Hope for Henry Foundation, kids, their siblings and the players enjoyed a party, decorated a giant gingerbread house, made sparkly ornaments and were treated to an array of Caps gear that the players eagerly autographed.
Tracy Councill, director of MedStar Georgetown’s art therapy program, Tracy’s Kids said, “Immersing themselves in art while being treated here helps kids understand they’re not alone. They make friends, work on an art project and can be with other kids going through similar things.”
Goalie Braden Holtby, up to his Caps jersey shirtsleeves in glitter while decorating an ornament with a young patient said, “Many of these families have so much happening that we can’t even imagine. I hope our visit makes it a little easier.”
“Many of these children are sick for so long,” said Laurie Strongin, founder and CEO of Hope for Henry, a foundation named after her son Henry who died at MedStar Georgetown 17 years ago and provides everything from parties to laptops for sick and hospitalized children. “While medical care is critical to their survival, ensuring their quality of life is also necessary for healing. A visit from the Capitals helps provide entertaining distractions and allows kids to forget about their illness and just be kids for the day.”
Ingrid Durand, big sister to her seven-month old brother who recently received a liver transplant at MedStar Georgetown also got to enjoy the festivities. “It’s hard to believe we’re actually seeing the Caps after all the things we’ve been through. I think it’s a relief.”
Ingrid’s dad Bart Durand appreciates that the Caps players would take the time to engage with the kids. “It brings joy to the families. To see their heroes on the ice in person is just great. I’m sure they’ll never forget it.”
Mary Durand says events like this really help brighten the spirits of families dealing with complex medical issues. “When you’ve been through hardship the bright spots mean a lot. We’re learning to appreciate the bright spots so much more and we just hang on to the joy that comes with it.”