Four hockey players from the New York Islanders played Santa on December 14, delivering toys, other gifts, and good cheer to hospitalized children at Stony Brook University Medical Center. Forwards Jesse Joensuu and Matt Martin, along with defensemen Travis Hamonic and Milan Jurcina, visited with the patients and their families, signing autographs and giving away team jerseys.
About 40 kids, as well as some teenagers and young adults, received visits from the players, who walked through the entire inpatient pediatric floor and the pediatric unit of SBUMC’s outpatient Cancer Center. During the previous week, the Islanders players chose gifts ranging from board games to Barbie dolls to bring to SBUMC.
One Barbie doll recipient was Victoria Ines, 4, of Port Jefferson Station. The players were thrilled to see Victoria immediately clutch the Barbie doll set. Julia Nofi, 12, of East Patchogue, and her hockey-fan parents, Robert and Tracey Nofi, were excited to meet the players. They chatted with the four players about Julia, her school, and the NHL season. The players enjoyed hearing about Julia’s talents as a lacrosse player.
Happy just to meet the players one-on-one and get to know them a little was Derek Cope, 20, an outpatient at the Cancer Center and sophomore at Stony Brook University. Inpatient Eric Lopez, 17, of Holbrook, felt the same way and was happy to receive an Islanders jersey that fit perfectly.
The visit was organized by the Child Life Program at SBUMC and the New York Islanders.
Through the Child Life Program at SBUMC, professionals provide therapeutic, educational, and recreational activities to meet the unique emotional and developmental needs of hospitalized children. Activities include medical play therapy, games, arts and crafts, as well as specialized programs such as animal-assisted therapy, music therapy, and birthday and holiday parties. For more information about the Child Life Program call (631) 444-3840, or visit www.stonybrookmedicalcenter.org/pediatrics/childlife