By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (AW/SW) Gretchen Albrecht
USS Wasp (LHD 1) Public Affairs
PORT EVERGLADES, Fla. - Sailors and a Marine assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) visited the Chris Evert Children’s Hospital in Broward County, Fla., April 27, to help lift the spirits of the hospital’s children, parents and staff during Navy Week Port Everglades.
Sailors received a tour of the hospital and saw the resources available to children and parents before going room to room to meet with the children.
“This is a very big day for the kids because they would not normally get the opportunity to meet such great role models,” said Ann Fogel, the hospital’s child life coordinator. “It really makes the kids smile as well as the parents and staff, and the Sailors visiting brings these wonderful, strong children such joy.”
Gunnery Sgt. Earnest Sheffield felt especially blessed to have the opportunity to give back to the community that is hosting Navy Week.
“I love seeing their faces light up and being able to bring some happiness to a unfortunate situation,” said Sheffield. “As military members we have so many opportunities open to us, so being able to give back and help is always a good thing and something we should all do.”
Service members walked room to room bringing stickers, photographs and laughter to each child they met.
“It was really fun to meet everyone,” said Cindy Alphonso, a 15-year-old patient. “It was a nice surprise and I really liked looking at the pictures of their ship.”
Parents were extremely grateful to Wasp’s crewmembers for taking the time from their liberty to visit them.
“I think you guys are just great,” said Glenn Fidje. “I know this has made my son’s day.”
Electronics Technician Petty Officer 3rd Class Rudy Picardo never volunteered at a children’s hospital until today, and for him the experience was meaningful.
“I enjoyed meeting each child and I loved how excited they got when we came in to visit,” said Picardo. “It really puts things into perspective when you meet these kids and their families. It really helps me put a face to those of whom I am defending my country and helps solidify the reason I am serving.”
After meeting with children, parents and staff, service members were treated to lunch in the hospital dining facility before returning to Wasp, but not before Fogel thanked everyone one last time.
“You guys are great and we appreciate you all so much,” said Fogel. “I think these kids are all heroes for going through what they have to go through. It was so nice that these little heroes got to meet real life military heroes today; it was truly a success.”