Six children, most of whom are patients of Miami Children’s Hospital’s Division of Pulmonology, spent the day much like thousands of kids their age. This, despite the fact that, to different degrees, they rely on medical equipment to breath or eat. These children along with parents, siblings, and caretakers were guests of the Marlins BallPark Buddies Foundation. The entire event was organized by PediStat – a local Florida provider of home medical equipment for children. Kluger, Kaplan, a local law firm, helped sponsor the event.
Marta Cruz whose son Joshua has a trach and a feeding tube and has undergone many hospitalizations and surgeries almost didn’t come because he wasn’t feeling well. However, the opportunity to get onto the field and meet the players was too great to pass up. “I’m so happy we decided to come, even if only for a short time,” his Mother said. “We wouldn’t have wanted to miss this!”
Ivelisse Cortijo, mother of another special needs child, loved the opportunity to let her kids be kids. “When your child has medical issues there can be lots of stress in the home,” Ivelisse says. “It was great spending a few hours where the only thing we thought about is how much we were clobbering the Nationals.”
Alison Garfinkel, RN BSN Director of Clinical Services at PediStat, said “the evening was so special because it was like a reunion of families with a special bond between them. For example, one of the most touching moments,” she added, “was when Brian Puente and Stephanie Cortijo compared their tracheostomy sites while standing on the field of the Miami Marlins.” Brian and Stephanie have similar conditions which required a tracheotomy to help them breathe, and Brian recently had his trach removed.
All 6 of the children have faced medical crisis throughout their lives. Some of the children knew each other previously, having met while they were hospitalized, others knew each other from attending a daycare which specializes in caring for children who require special nursing care, still others met for the first time.
The excursion was made possible by the Marlins BallPark Buddies Foundation. Besides supplying free tickets they gave out bags of goodies to each child which included Marlins t-shirts, bobble head dolls, and posters. Then, during the 3rd inning, Billy The Marlin made a special appearance to help our staff and kids cheer the Marlins on to victory