JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (August 5, 2015) – The ETSU Men’s basketball team took time Monday to visit the Niswonger Children’s Hospital and bring smiles to the faces of the children at the facility.
“It’s a special day anytime we can give back to the community that’s really important,” said head coach Steve Forbes. “Some people just need a little uplifting, so anytime we can do that, it’s great.”
Every member of the basketball team joined in Monday morning, as the team was broken off into separate groups in hopes of influencing as many children as possible. The team didn’t come to the hospital empty handed as each was given foam basketballs to give away to the children. There were smiles all around from the nurses, doctors, players and children.
In a children’s hospital, many of the patients may see things that they are not accustomed to seeing. One of those rare sights was junior transfer Peter Jurkin, who stands seven feet tall.
“I love hanging out and being around children and they make me happy because they get so excited when they see tall people,” Jurkin said. “I learned today that life is short and I’m glad we came here and got to share an experience with the children.”
While Jurkin may be big in stature, his heart is even bigger as he was one of many players to be grinning from ear to ear all day and interacting with the children. Jurkin was even spotted playing peek-a-boo with one of the patients.
The Niswonger Children’s Hospital serves more than 200,000 children in a four-state, 29-county region. The goal is to provide safe and child-friendly care that is centered on the patient and the family. The hospital provides comprehensive pediatric services with access to more than 20 pediatric specialties due to its partnership with Quillen College of Medicine’s pediatric residency program.
“We have kids that are here for maybe a few days but it may be long term or they may be here for a treatment so just to have special visitors really puts a smile on their face,” said Melanie Redding, Child Life Program Manager at Niswonger Children’s Hospital. “We appreciate the time that the players and coaches’ haven take out of their day to do that.”
An hour of practice time and off-season conditioning could have been had, but for the team and head coach Steve Forbes, the opportunity to provide this experience is something that will last a lifetime.
“It’s awesome watching kids who are having a tough day, seeing their eyes light up when we walk in their room,” said Forbes. “That’s the most important thing, to be able to put a smile on these kids faces and make their day a little bit better.”
ETSU fans wanting to receive Buccaneer news, score updates, in-game promotions and much more sent to their mobile device can do so by signing up for “Buc Updates.” Click here to sign up today!
For more information on Buccaneer men’s hoops, visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s basketball page.