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    Rolling Thunder, Santa Claus Visits NMCP

    Rolling Thunder, Santa Claus Visits NMCP

    Photo By Petty Officer 1st Class Laura Myers | 180714-N-IY469-077 – Santa Claus gives Sophia a toy during Rolling Thunder’s...... read more read more



    Story by Petty Officer 1st Class Laura Myers 

    Naval Medical Center - Portsmouth

    The Rolling Thunder Chapter 5 Virginia motorcycle club and more than a dozen other motorcycle clubs visited Naval Medical Center Portsmouth (NMCP) July 14 to spread cheer to pediatric patients and pass out presents.

    Santa Claus and members of the motorcycle clubs traveled around the Emergency Room, Pediatrics Ward and Pediatric Intensive Care Unit for Christmas in July, one of two annual visits by the group.

    “We are excited to have you here on the base and to share our community with you, and we thank you so much for your support,” said Capt. Carolyn Rice, NMCP’s executive officer. “I’ve had the pleasure of working with your organization in other states. You’ve come out and rallied for our military and supported us in a lot of events are we are so glad to have you here today.”

    The motorcyclists visits NMCP’s pediatric patients each July and December. Each time they visit, they bring toys for children of all ages that they collected through donations during the year. The Christmas in July event and Santa Claus are a nice surprise for the children, and the mission is to put a smile on each of their faces.

    “The importance of us coming twice a year is that each time we do, it supplies toys for a six-month period so every child who comes through, somebody is giving them a toy because they are here during the scariest times of their lives,” said Traci Hackley, president of Rolling Thunder Chapter 5, Virginia.

    Rolling Thunder teams up with NMCP’s American Red Cross office to make each December and July a success. The gifts that are left over from Santa’s visit are kept in NMCP’s American Red Cross office and handed out to the children who are hospitalized throughout the year.
    Not only do Santa Claus and the bikers want to put smiles on the children’s faces, they want to make an impact on the parents as well.

    “It’s hard for parents, it’s hard to see a child suffer, and it’s hard when some of the diagnoses come down that the family doesn’t want to hear,” Hackley said. “We feel, from one parent to another, that we want to help them as well. They can see these people in front of them that they’ve never met, they don’t know, will probably never see again, and think ‘they took the time to help my child smile for a moment.’”

    NMCP’s Chief Petty Officers Association (CPOA) volunteered to help with Christmas in July. Some brought their children in and they helped with sorting toys and getting the toys around the medical center.

    “A lot of us are parents, so reaching out to these children, being here for them, is one of the best things in the world,” said Senior Chief Ship’s Serviceman Tracy Thresher, CPOA member. “And I brought my daughter today because she wants to be a pediatrician and she wants to do volunteer work. She loves helping people so I thought it would be a great opportunity for her.”

    Thresher’s daughter, Jordin, described being involved with Christmas in July as “Awesome. This was a great experience!” For Jerome Chew, the son of Chief Culinary Specialist Dementrain Chew, “It was a good experience because you see all these sick people, and you start feeling bad a little bit,” Jerome said. “When you help out, it makes you get a warm feeling, so it makes you feel better about yourself knowing you are giving back.”

    As for the members of the motorcycle clubs, they plan to keep coming until the day there are no longer patients to visit.

    “The one ultimate goal, I would love to come here one time and to not be able to see one child, not one bed filled, nothing, because that means they are all well,” Hackley said.

    As the U. S. Navy’s oldest, continuously-operating hospital since 1830, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth proudly serves past and present military members and their families. The nationally acclaimed, state-of-the-art medical center, including its nine branch clinics located throughout the Hampton Roads area, additionally offers premier research and teaching programs designed to prepare new doctors, nurses and hospital corpsmen for future roles in healing and wellness.



    Date Taken: 07.14.2018
    Date Posted: 07.18.2018 11:13
    Story ID: 284734
    Location: PORTSMOUTH, VA, US 

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