SAN JOSE, Calif. – San Jose Earthquakes players Anthony Ampaipitakwong, Matt Luzunaris, Khari Stephenson and Sam Cronin paid a visit to Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif. on Thursday, April 21 to spend time with kids in the oncology ward.
Quakes forward Matt Luzunaris was particularly touched during his visit to Lucile Packard. Luzunaris’ brother passed away from cancer when Matt was nine and his girlfriend is currently battling Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
PHOTO GALLERY: Quakes visit Lucile Packard Hospital
“Making these visits means a lot to me, and it’s always nice to be able to take the children’s minds off their illnesses for a few hours and make them feel like normal kids. I think all of us, both the kids and the players, had a great time. It’s definitely something that I want to keep doing in the future.”
The foursome played board games, participated in arts and crafts and socialized in the playroom with children fighting leukemia and various forms of cancer as well as their families. Each kid also received a signed Earthquakes t-shirt and had the opportunity to take photos with San Jose’s players.
Usually with these types of visits, the volunteers leave after playtime, but the group decided to stay make rounds to other parts of the oncology unit to meet other inpatients.
“To go out there and see smiles and hear laughter made my day,” Ampaipitakwong said. “A lot of those kids spend all day in the hospital, so to go in and bring joy and something new to them was awesome. This was the first time I’d visited a children’s hospital and it was a positive experience that I plan on repeating.”
Among the kids at the oncology unite was Derek Aguas, a leukemia patient waiting for a bone marrow transplant. Aguas rarely visited the playroom, but he could hardly hold back his excitement when he found out the Earthquakes were going to stop by.
“After seeing what he goes through in his day-to-day, it really meant a lot to me as a mother to see him smile and have fun with the players,” said Maria Aguas. “We families truly appreciate what the players did in taking their time to help in the community. Derek has already asked me to take him to an Earthquakes game when he gets better.”