A special visit for St. Mary’s kids

Dreams came true for patients at St. Mary’s Hospital for Children in Bayside recently, when New York Jets draft picks Dustin Keller and Erik Ainge visited the hospital to sign autographs and play with the disabled children.
“I caught the ball, and everybody tagged me!” exclaimed Jonathan Beiner, a 12-year-old visitor at St. Mary’s, after catching a Nerf-football pass from Ainge, a quarterback and fifth-round draft pick.
Beiner is a die-hard Jets fan and sometimes goes to the games with his family. He was thrilled to have the opportunity to meet — let alone play with — the new Jets players at their visit to the hospital, on Wednesday, June 25.
“We’ve been given such an amazing platform and God-given talent,” said Ainge. “Even though I’m only playing a Nerf football game with them, if it affects just one kid, then it’s all worthwhile.”
Judging from the reactions of the kids who had the opportunity to be on the field with a real-life NFL football player, they were all affected.
Keller, a tight-end and first-round draft pick, echoed the sentiment, as he signed autographs on Jets caps and handed them out to the kids.
“We could just be sitting at home watching TV,” Keller said. “But by being able to do something like this, it helps you know you’ve done something productive.”
According to Dr. Burton Grebin, President and CEO of St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children, the recent visit is part of an evolving partnership between the hospital and the New York Jets.
In January, Jets head coach Eric Mangini visited the children as the first collaborative event.
“I’m thrilled that Mangini and the members of the team have found a new home here,” Grebin said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for the kids to see role models, which is important in terms of the therapeutic process.”
The St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children provides medical care to close to 4,000 children every day in the New York Metropolitan area and beyond. For more information on its services, visit their web site at www.stmaryskids.org.

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