By Mark Hallum
Entertainer Nick Cannon and Grammy-nominated musician Gavin DeGraw toured the St. Mary’s Hospital for Children facility in Bayside Wednesday in a lead up to their annual benefit concert in Manhattan.
Cannon, who serves on the board of directors, hosted a brief performance in the lobby of the hospital at 29-01 216th St. by artists Confidence and The Craig Lewis Band from “America’s Got Talent” and later handed out gifts to the patients.
“I get to come here every couple of months, I wish I could come more. But to see the smiles on everyone’s faces, from the children to the amazing staff, to the amazing families that support these amazing children … it truly is special,” Cannon said. “No matter what is going on in the world, I can come in here and actually see a smile on these kids’ faces. It puts everything in the proper perspective.”
According to Victoria Falcone, a spokeswoman for St. Mary’s, Cannon is familiar with the patients to the point of knowing many of them by name, but the frequency of his visits does not diminish the children’s enthusiasm for spending time with the celebrity.
“Our kids don’t really get to leave here and this is their home, so being able to bring something special like this, where Nick will come and see them in their home … It’s so special because they don’t get this often.” Falcone said, “He knows these kids by name. It’s so special because these kids, they have rough lives, so being able to bring this much joy and happiness really helps”
Wednesday morning’s event was followed by a benefit concert by Cannon and DeGraw at Mercedes-Benz Manhattan.
“St. Mary’s is the largest provider of long-term care for children with complex medical conditions in New York. This concert is a great way to celebrate our achievements while pushing ourselves to continue providing the very best care,” said Dr. Edwin Simpser, the CEO. “Quality health care is expensive. Through our generous donors our patients have one less [thing] to worry about. They can focus on what is important — their children.”
The benefit concert will raise money for St. Mary’s so that the not-for-profit health-care organization can continue providing intensive rehabilitation, specialized care and education to children with life-limiting conditions.
St. Mary’s treats children throughout the metropolitan area through a network of inpatient, home care and community programs through their pediatric health system.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall