Twelve tall teammates and their two coaches from Reedley College hit the road recently for a matchup. But the players weren’t headed to a basketball court this time. The Reedley Tigers women’s basketball team came to Children's Hospital Central California to engage in a few other games.
The team traveled to the Child Life Classroom and Playroom with 60 basketballs as gifts for our patients. The large sacks they carried conjured up images of Santa Claus, but the black and orange balls emblazed with the Reedley College mascot looked more like Halloween.
Several young women entered the classroom where a grinning oncology patient invited them to play Monopoly. “That’s too hard to play,” one athlete said. “I don’t think I can do that.” Her teammates laughed along with the boy who promised to teach them all how to play.
Another patient, who was nearly as tall as the basketball players, found his favorite ball in the sack and pitched it gently into the air. He tapped it again and again, causing the stripes to spin.
On the other side of the classroom several athletes set down their basketballs and picked up drumsticks and guitars to play Band Hero on the Wii video game.
Inside the Child Life Playroom the coaches watched their athletes interact in a new environment. Coach Dan Kilbert said it was the first time these players had visited Children's Hospital, but anyone observing the ease with which the college students interacted with the patients would say they came with a familiar winning spirit.
Just outside the Child Life Playroom a toddler hugged his new basketball as his mother tenderly placed him into a wheelchair draped in a strawberry quilt. The tiger-striped ball nearly filled his entire lap – but it wasn’t quite as big as the smile on his face.
To learn how your group can bring smiles to our kids, contact Child Life at (559) 353-5444.