On Tuesday, March 26, Chula Vista Olympic Training Center resident athletes visited Rady’s Children’s Hospital in San Diego, Calif., to participate in a sports day with young patients. Sports day participants included Paralympic medalist Blake Leeper (track & field) along with Olympic hopefuls Jere Summers (track & field), Mackenzie Brown (archery), Nate Augspurger (men’s rugby), Kimber Rozier, Emilie Bydwell and Ryan Carlyle (women’s rugby).
The CVOTC athletes were invited to the hospital’s festive outdoor garden where sports day games were organized and awaiting participants. The children – and the athletes – had a choice of t-ball, cotton hockey, arts and crafts, an obstacle course and a sport ball toss.
Jere Summers started things off at the crafts table and Blake Leeper used his artistic skills to make a glittered self-portrait with instruction and constructive criticism and from two young ladies while Nate Augspurger was shown exactly how to throw the sport ball toss game, which was worked by a boy who was quite the professional at the game. Some other boys were interested in the rules of rugby and learned how to throw a rugby ball with Kimber Rozier, Emilie Bydwell and Ryan Carlyle. Over at the obstacle course, Mackenzie Brown led some of the young participants around the cones and some even tried the hula hoop. Patients and their family members were excited to try on Blake Leeper’s silver and bronze medals from the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.
Before the end of the event, one patient traded his green slime with Emilie Bydwell for her rugby ball. As he was leaving, he said it was a fair trade since he had at least 10 more slimes back at home.
The athlete appearance was organized with the assistance of Athletes for Hope, whose mission is to educate, encourage and assist athletes in their efforts to contribute to community and charitable causes, to increase public awareness of those efforts, and to inspire others to do the same. Athletes for Hope is a philanthropic organization founded in 2007 by Andre Agassi, Muhammad Ali, Lance Armstrong, Warrick Dunn, Jeff Gordon, Mia Hamm, Tony Hawk, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Mario Lemieux, Alonzo Mourning, and Cal Ripken, Jr. The founding athletes believe that Athletes for Hope can use that connection to create a movement for positive change. In the same way that watching athletes compete inspires millions to get involved in sports, the founding athletes believe that athletes who are working to make the world a better place can inspire millions to do the same.
Each child left the event with a signed poster from the athletes and a few extra posters were given to hospital staff to hand out to the patients who weren’t able to come out to the sports day. The CVOTC athletes were excited to support the cause and play with the kids.