Several jockeys from Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla., brought smiles and gifts to patients Wednesday at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital in nearby Hollywood.
Jockeys Edgard Zayas, Luca Panici, Carlos Montalvo and Cristian Torres visited patients and their families for two hours in the long-term intensive care unit and outpatient wing.
They spent time talking with the children and giving each one a gift bag with authentic jockey silks and googles, books and playing cards. The children will also take part in a “Create Your Own Silks,” contest in which they will draw silks to be worn in a race during Gulfstream's Championship Meet.
“We got together to show some love to these beautiful kids that are in need for a lot of God's blessings,” Montalvo said. “Being a part of these visits, there are no words to describe it. It's heart-breaking, but at the same time it brings us so much joy to see everyone here helping these kids get better. Everyone at Joe DiMaggio Hospital does a great job.”
Carly Russo, Child Life Specialist at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital, said: “Visits like this are extremely helpful and important to our patients. They bring smiles to their faces and it provides a new experience for them, and it's not your typical hospital activity that we provide. They love when we have visitors come, just to see different faces and break up the monotony of their day. A lot of them are educated on horses. Some of them love horses, some of them never heard of Gulfstream Park before, so it was truly great to see them interact with the jockeys today.”
Panici, who has visited Joe DiMaggio several times, said: “Unfortunately, there are some kids who are not as lucky as others…so to give them a few moments in the day to forget their situation and where they are means so much to us
“My favorite part of today was when we went into the room of one of the patients and when he saw us he was so happy,” Torres said. “When we gave him the book, jockey goggles and silks he was so happy and excited and smiled so big.”
Said Zayas: “This is an unbelievable experience for us to bring these kids some gifts and some happiness”
Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital is one of the region's leading pediatric hospitals, offering a comprehensive scope of healthcare services and programs in a child-friendly atmosphere. The full-service hospital treats minor illnesses, trauma-related accidents and some of the most complex medical conditions.
Established in 1992, Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital combines advanced technology and the expertise of the largest, most diverse group of board-certified pediatric specialists in the region. With its summer 2011 expansion, Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital now has 226 beds and is South Florida's newest freestanding children's hospital.
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