Cardinal and Gomes Visit Children's Hospital
Brian Cardinal is the proud father of two young, healthy children. But on January 5, he had the chance to interact with encourage several kids that are struggling with various health problems. Ryan Gomes joined Cardinal in the Reading Timeout that took place at the Minneapolis campus of the Children's Hospital and Clinics of Minnesota. "It's funny," commented Cardinal. "[The kids] say we put a smile on their face, but they're the ones that put a smile on our face."
Jennifer Peterson, Corporate Development Officer of the Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, explained that the hospital stresses the importance of reading to their young patients. The hospital itself has a program called Reach Out and Read, which means that every child that checks into the hospital receives a brand new book to keep as his or her own. Reading is especially important for some of the children that will be missing school as a result of hospitalization.
"Reading is great for kids, and a lot of schools are making it a priority," said Peterson. "It's always great to have a book and have a special Timberwolves player read it to you. So it's a fantastic initiative for our families, and it's great that you're here to share that with them."
Cardinal also commented on the impact of reading. "Reading is unbelievable. It allows you to escape where you're at, whether you're at a hospital or at home. It allows you to use your imagination, and you can go anyplace in the world."
This Reading Timeout proved different from other readings that the Timberwolves players have participated in. Because many of the children are unable to leave their rooms to attend the reading, the hospital utilizes an interactive television station that broadcasts the reading live into each child's room. "It's the most popular activity in the hospital," said Peterson. "They love it."
Cardinal and Gomes expressed the different atmosphere of doing a reading in which they were being recorded for an audience that wasn't present in the room. "That was somewhat nerve wracking," commented Cardinal. "Just because everyone's in their room watching on TV, and you're trying to do a good job reading. But it was fun. It was unique, and it's neat to be a part of today, to be on TV and know that you're in everybody's room." Gomes added good-naturedly, "I didn't stutter too much during the story, but you could feel the pressure of people watching."
As always, the Reading Timeout was a positive experience that gave the players a chance to interact the kids. However, the program also held the potential for more emotion being that it took place in the Children's Hospital. Cardinal said, "Having two children of my own, it's nice to be able to come here, because my wife and I know how excited we are with our kids. [We're lucky] that they're happy and healthy, and now I'm able to come to the hospital where some of these kids are not feeling very well. They're sick, and it's nice to be able to come here and put a smile on their face."
After the reading, the players took time to visit several rooms and talk to the children as well as hand out gifts such as t-shirts, wristbands, autographed memorabilia, and the 2009-2010 Timberwolves yearbook. "It's good to come here today and give back to the kids," said Gomes. They're in tough situations right now where they're going through either surgery or whatever the case may be. And for us to come in and put a smile on their face […] do things they'll remember and hopefully liven up their day, we let them know that we do care about their situations right now."
The kids were, as always, beyond excited to see that NBA players had come to read to them and hang out with them for part of the day. One boy even said that he had waited three hours for Gomes and Cardinal to arrive so that he could see them. "To have him waiting around for us and to have that be the highlight of his day shows a lot about our organization and shows a lot about us as people. And for him, it's going to go a long way for him to remember," expressed Gomes.
For more information on the FastBreak Foundation as well as the Operation Minnesota Heroes Month, visit the FastBreak Foundation info on the Timberwolves Web site.