Brooklyn Nets and Maimonides spread holiday cheer for children with cancer

December 20, 2013 Jaime DeJesus
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It was a slam dunk for the Brooklyn Nets organization and its official hospital, Maimonides Medical Center. On December 19, the two organizations teamed up with Sunrise Day Camp, the only full summer day camp dedicated to children with cancer, to throw a Christmas party for the out-patients of the hospital. The celebration included food, music and gift-giving, as well as a visit from the Brooklyn Nets mascot, the BrooklyKnight.

“It’s a wonderful distraction for the kids that are here because they are not concentrating on needles or anything,” said CEO of Sunrise Day Camp, Arnie Preminger. “Rather, they’re thinking about what kind of fun they are going to have today. That’s what children should be doing.”

The day camp also created the Sunrise on Wheels program which includes a tie-dye colored truck that travels to seven area hospitals to provide sick children with games and activities.

“We provide this truck with arts and crafts while the kids are waiting for chemotherapy,” added Bonnie Flatow, director of community relations for Sunrise. “They love it and we love helping out. It makes them less afraid to go to the hospital.”

When the Nets moved to Brooklyn, the team contacted Preminger and the camp, expressing a desire to get involved.” It means a lot to us. Today is meant to bring fun experiences. We want to show our support for what they’re going through,” said Jeff Scott, director of communications for the Nets.

Children and their families cheered when the BrooklyKnight arrived. The mascot gave out Nets t-shirts as well as posed for photos. They were also able to get their faces painted. Santa Claus also made an appearance with gifts in hand, such as toy trucks, for the excited children.

Employees of Maimonides who’ve shared a relationship with the patients were happy to see the kids acting carefree and having fun.

“I see these kids sick when they’re not as lively or having a good time. It’s great that they’re here for something fun. It’s such a great day,” said Child Life Specialist at the hospital, Alexis Hodges, who was also thrilled to see the patients’ family attend the party. “It makes them realize that people are here for them. I’ve been here for five years and they’ve been doing it ever since I’ve been here and long before that.”

Towards the end of the event, the children sat on the floor with the mascot and sang Christmas tunes with carolers.

The day was a success for all parties involved. “It’s a wonderful confluence where three organizations came together,” said Preminger.

Families agreed. “My nephew has been having a great time,” said Julie Alarcon.

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