Days before taking on Minnesota United, Houston Dynamo players Eric Bird, Kevin Garcia, Leonardo and Michael Nelson visited a local hospital to interact and play with children who are there for treatment. The visit not only put a smile on the children’s faces, it also made the players’ day too.
“It’s something that you always dream about when you’re younger and it’s special because you know you’re in a position where you can give back,” said Bird. “These kids look up to us and it is our duty now to give back to those kids. It’s a very special feeling.”
The hospital treats children with cleft lips/palates and orthopedic conditions, and many of the patients are big soccer fans.
“When I was telling the kids that the Dynamo were going to be here, you could see big smiles on their faces. So it means the world to them to be able to have this team here because you see these kids feel happy and lift their mood up,” expressed one hospital staff member. “To have an awesome team like the Dynamo come visit us is everything.”
Willian Guevara Serrano, a patient at the hospital, was especially excited to see the players come to his room. “I just recently was able to attend one of their games here, so I loved seeing them walk in here,” said Guevara. “When they told me they would visit us, I got really excited and happy.”
Although the patients were excited to meet the players, whom they showed great appreciation for, the excitement went both ways; the players expressed their admiration for the kids and patients as well.
“It was an incredible experience just to see their courage and resiliency; it really puts things in perspective for us,” said Garcia. “The things they have to go through day in and day out with surgeries and recovery time and the pain that they might be in puts things in perspective for us. Just to see them smiling and have a good time was a very enriching experience.”
Nelson also weighed in, saying they admire the kids and families for how strong they are.
“It’s awesome to visit them, hoping to be positive role models for them, but we take away a lot of the interactions too and it leaves us both with a smile. It’s really great,” he said. “Everyone is battling something in their lives, and they might be battling something more serious than most everyday people are but they’ve got great attitudes and hearts of gold so if they just keep fighting, things will definitely work out.”
The group of players left the event with great admiration for the kids they met, and look forward to visiting again in order to spread more joy and give back to those who need it most.