Slalom Team Visits Hemby Children's Hospital Thanksgiving Day

Nov. 25, 2011, 2 a.m. (ET)

Participants in the USA Canoe/Kayak Thanksgiving slalom training camp once again had the chance to visit the Hemby Children's Hospital Thursday in Charlotte, N.C. Athletes were taken by Hemby Children's Hospital employee, Greg St. Martin to visit with young patients who were not able to be home for Thanksgiving this year.

“I don't think that the Slalom Team Thanksgiving camp would be complete without a trip to see our friends at Hemby Children's Hospital,” said USA Canoe/Kayak National Teams Director William Irving. “After a hard training session in the morning at the U.S. National Whitewater Center, the athletes had a chance to have a little fun with some young and encouraging individuals.” 

The team divided up into groups and had the chance to go room to room signing autographs, playing video games and concluding with a game of tag with two of the wings most active boys in one of the activity rooms. 

“The highlight of the visit was certainly the chance to spend time with some incredibly inspiring young kids, who really helped us put into perspective what this Thanksgiving season is all about,” Irving said. “Most of our team is away from their families this Thanksgiving, but being able to spend time with these kids inspires us to be thankful for opportunities like these visits.”

The athletes enjoyed a Thanksgiving lunch provided by Novant Health at the Café at the Presbyterian Orthopedic Hospital.  

"We are very fortunate to have such great partners in Novant Health, whose staff provided our team today with an amazing Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings - topped off with some pumpkin pie,” Irving said.

The team will be back in the water on Friday morning and competing in the final competition of the year Saturday and Sunday from 10am-2pm at the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, NC. All practices and competitions are open to the public.


Athlete Quotes:

Michal Smolen (Gastonia, N.C.): "Sometimes we forget to be thankful for the life we have. Visiting the children's hospital really brings this feeling to my attention and I'm glad that today I was able to share some of my time with children who have to spend the day in a hospital away from family."

Ashley Nee (Darnestown, Md.): "Playing hide and seek with the US National Canoe/Kayak Team versus the children at the Presbyterian Hospital is the world’s best way to spend the Thanksgiving holiday."

Jim Wade (Boise, Idaho): “We had a great time. The hospital staff prepared a great thanksgiving meal and the kids brightened everyone's day with the best game of tag I've played in years. With everyone jumping and crawling, we laughed even more than we ate. I can't think of a better thanksgiving.”

USA Canoe/Kayak is a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee and the International Canoe Federation. It governs the Olympic disciplines of Flatwater Sprint and Whitewater Slalom and sanctions Freestyle, Marathon, Outrigger, Wildwater, Kayak Polo, Dragon Boat and Canoe Sailing in the United States. For more information about USA Canoe/Kayak, please visit us on the web at and on Facebook and Twitter.