News: Marines, Sailors bring smiles to hospital children during Fleet Week Port Everglades
Story by Sgt. Alicia R. Leaders
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – When you’re sick and in the hospital, lying cooped up in a bed for hours on end while nurses check your vital signs throughout the day is never any fun – especially if you’re a kid. But this time, it was different. When the door opened, it wasn’t a nurse or doctor who walked through the door – it was Marines and Sailors.
Children’s eyes lit up as Marines from 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 14, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Sailors from the USS New York (LPD 21) and Carrier Strike Group 12, visited children from the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood, Fla., April 30, as part of the 24th Anniversary Fleet Week Port Everglades.
“I always tell people they have an opportunity; it’s always better to be the one visiting someone in the hospital than being the one in the hospital because you can make a difference,” said Master Sgt. Abiub Montes, native of Jacksonville, Fla., and military advisor from the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 14 of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “It is important to come and make that change because I don’t know how long some of these kids are going to be in the hospital and to have people visit them, it helps their day go a little faster, and I think it’s important because it’s changing their lives.”
Marines and Sailors walked throughout the cancer units, pediatric ward, and intensive care unit, visiting the children in their rooms. Before entering each room, Montes said the Marines and Sailors would review the children’s information board to learn a little more about them.
“One girl had on her board that she loved music, so we came in and sang her song,” said Montes. “We try to get their minds off the medical issue they’re going through and try to give them an atmosphere that is positive. We want to make the children laugh, (so we) say a few jokes, and bring smiles.”
Most of the time people see the military members as only out there in combat or on a commercial, said Montes. Some of the children said they have never seen Marines or Sailors, and the surprise visit allowed the children to meet service members face-to-face and learn about their missions and capabilities.
“It’s kind of cool for the Sailors and Marines to come here because I’ve never seen them, and it was interesting to know what they really do and how they serve our country,” said Maddison Novo, 11-year-old patient of Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital and native of Pembroke Pines, Fla.
Lance Cpl. Cody D. Souders, native of Hagerstown, Md., and assaultman with 2nd Bn., 6th Marines, said he enjoyed sharing his stories with the children as much as they enjoyed seeing them. He said this was his first time visiting a children’s hospital and it brought back memories of what he did before joining the Marine Corps. Souders worked at a daycare for two years, interacting with children, infant through 12-years-old, and he got the opportunity to spend time with children during his Marine Corps career.
“Today was priceless,” said Souders. “There is no other feeling that can describe it. The visit felt really good because after all the hard work we do on a daily basis; it feels good that the children look at us as superheroes to them, and you need that kind of feeling in this type of a job.”
During Fleet Week, Marines and Sailors are volunteering with local community outreach organizations and experiencing the sights, sounds and hospitality of South Florida through May 5.
For more news stories and photographs about Fleet Week Port Everglades, visit http://www.newriver.marines.mil/ or visit the Facebook pages at http://www.facebook.com/FleetWeekPortEverglades and http://www.facebook.com/mcasnewriver.
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