Seven-year-old MacKid Giacomo Pugliese had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to “take the field” with Ticats player Greg Wojt at the launch of Hearts in the Huddle, an new partnership between the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and McMaster Children’s Hospital Foundation.
Hearts in the Huddle presented by Direct Energy will bring Ticats players into McMaster Children’s Hospital and its outpatient programs at Chedoke for regular visits with patients. Yesterday players Landon Rice, Mike Filer, Andy Fantuz, Greg Wojt, C.J. Gable and Simoni Lawrence were on hand to kick off the program.
In addition to regularly scheduled visits to the hospital, the Ticats will provide tickets and special game-day field passes to selected patients and their families.
“Hearts in the Huddle is an extension of the Ticats ongoing outreach to children and youth in our community,” said Tiger-Cats president and chief operating officer Glenn Gibson. “The real heroes of this game are the children and their parents who demonstrate such amazing courage. Our objective for Hearts in the Huddle is to bring them some joy and encouragement, and hopefully, a bit of fun.”
Giacomo’s mother, Rita Pugliese remembers how a visit from Brian Bulcke lifted her son’s spirits while he was undergoing chemotherapy for treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia at the hospital in April.
“Giacomo is a big Ticats fan and he was so thrilled to meet Brian,” said Pugliese. “The visit allowed him to forget about being sick for a little while and focus on just having fun.”
Dr. Peter Fitzgerald, president of McMaster Children’s Hospital, said he is proud to have the Ticats on his team, especially as Mac looks forward to the opening of the new children’s health centre in 2015.
“Many of the children who will receive care at the new centre have disabilities and face life-long health challenges,” said Fritzgerlad. “Having the opportunity to meet face-to-face with the players on an ongoing basis will provide a source of hope and inspiration.”
McMaster Children’s Health Centre will be a landmark facility where children with physical, intellectual and developmental disabilities receive leading-edge therapy, treatment and support. The 170,000-square-foot centre will be home to the Hospital’s outpatient services currently located at Chedoke.