The Washington Capitals made their annual visit to MedStar Georgetown University Hospital on Monday as part of the NHL’s “The Biggest Assist Happens Off the Ice” program. Team members joined patients and their families in the hospital’s Tracy’s Kids art clinic to squirt paint at a canvas, doodle around a small table, and autograph gifts including blankets, posters, and Capitals Kids Club kits, which are provided by Capitals fans through the team’s Kids Club kit donation program. The Caps sported purple jerseys, part of the Hockey Fights Cancer campaign, which seeks to unite the hockey community in its efforts to raise money and awareness toward a cure.
The Capitals sponsored the art clinic’s renovation. That means they bring a significant level of awareness to what the patients are going through, says Tracy Councill, program director for Tracy’s Kids. “If we can get a chance to help people know that we’re doing art therapy, and that kids with cancer are normal kids, it means a lot on a lot of levels.”
The kids look forward to the day all year long, says Laurie Strongin, founder and CEO of Hope for Henry, a nonprofit that partners with hospitals on innovative programs for seriously ill children. The day means a lot to the players, too, particularly those with children. Says right winger T.J. Oshie, who’s a father of two, “Every time it’s very humbling to come here. You appreciate it a little more, what you’re able to do on a daily basis when you see these kids hooked up to machines.”
Adds captain Alex Ovechkin, “We love to spend time here. We try to connect to everybody, you know. We want to have everybody happy.”