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Reasons For Hope

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Before heading to Nationals Park to prepare for Tuesday’s game, Ian Desmond and Ryan Zimmerman had some important business across town. Through a partnership with Hope for Henry, the two infielders spent some time at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, lifting the spirits of pediatric cancer patients undergoing treatment.

DSC_1594Zimmerman, who annually visits children in local hospitals, appreciates the perspective he gains from meeting children who are fighting for their lives.

“A lot of these kids are fighting battles that we’ve never even had to think about,” he explained. “It’s pretty amazing to see what they go through.”

Desmond is one of the club’s most community-minded players, but made his first hospital visit. He was overwhelmed by the positive attitudes from the children and families he encountered.

“To be able to see kids, parents and family members in such positive spirits when things are stacked against them, it’s awesome,” he said. “It’s encouraging and motivating, and it’s just a blessing to be able to be here and interact with them.”

DSC_1627Laurie Strongin founded Hope For Henry after her eldest son lost his battle with cancer. Every week, Hope For Henry hosts in-hospital parties and events that help promote comfort, care and recovery for the patients and their families. For Laurie, professional athletes taking a genuine interest in children struggling with unimaginable circumstances is what she envisioned when she started the foundation 10 years ago.

“This is our second event with the Washington Nationals and it is a total delight to work with them,” Strongin said. “The players make the kids so happy. (It’s great) for them to meet their heroes while they’re in the hospital and really have a chance to visit with them.”

Hope For Henry provided pizza and cupcakes along with baseballs, baseball cards and wristbands that Ryan and Ian gave to the kids. Each child also had their picture taken by a Hope for Henry photographer, who printed the photos on-site so they could be autographed by the players before the visit was over.

DSC_1622Considering their circumstances, the children were all in remarkably high spirits,  none more so than three-year-old Jakyle. Wearing his Nationals jersey, Jakyle was overcome with exuberance when Zimmerman and Desmond walked in. This particular moment had a lasting effect for both Nationals.

“He’s only three years old and has been through more than a lot of people have been through in their whole lives,” said Zimmerman. “For him to have some fun and jump around and go crazy, it’s humbling.”

For more information about Hope For Henry, visit http://www.hopeforhenry.org.

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