It was a fun-filled day for the patients at CHOC, as they received the Starlight Fun Center and spent time with XM All-Star Futures Game participants Mike Trout, Luis Jimenez and Zack Britton, as well as several MLB mascots and members of the Angels Strike Force.
"It's great because these kids forget their troubles and their illnesses for even just an hour," said Patrice Poidmore, senior director of the CHOC Children's Foundation. "So to watch them is just amazing. These children are our family here, so to see Major League Baseball and the players come in is truly a testament to them."
The event was complete with a ribbon cutting on the four-foot tall Starlight Fun Center, which is a mobile entertainment unit containing a Nintendo Wii gaming system, a DVD player and a flat screen monitor.
Major League Baseball is certainly not foreign to donating these Starlight Fun Centers, as it's become an annual tradition for the host city of the All-Star Game to donate one to a local hospital. It's all part of MLB's "Going Beyond" initiative, which is expected to raise $5 million for local and national charities as part of MLB's All-Star Week in Anaheim and the surrounding areas.
"Since 2005, we've donated fun centers at every All-Star Game and at the World Series, including one year where every Major League team donated one," said Tom Brasuell, MLB vice president of community affairs. "So we've donated 44 fun centers, so this has been a regular event for us."
Starlight Fun Centers are proven to distract children from pain and anxiety, alleviate stress, loneliness and isolation, help young patients better understand and manage illnesses, and connect families with others facing similar challenges, according to Angel Montanez, the assistant vice president of corporate partnerships for Starlight Children's Foundation.
"For more than 25 years, Starlight has been helping seriously ill children and their families cope with their pain, fear and isolation through entertainment, education and family activity," Montanez said. "We're absolutely delighted to bring this Fun Center and we couldn't do it without our sponsors like Major League Baseball."
The event has also been part of a tradition for the participants of the XM Futures Game, which was well-represented by Trout and Jimenez of the Angels' organization and Britton of the Orioles' organization.
"It was really nice," said Jimenez, who will represent the World Team in the Futures Game. "It makes you feel good to see the kids feeling really good too. So it was fun."
Trout, who along with Britton will represent the U.S. Team, echoed Jimenez's sentiments about helping out the patients at the hospital.
"It's great," Trout said. "It was fun coming here with Zack and Luis. It's just great a feeling to put smiles on these kids faces. It gives me chills every time I think about it."
The Starlight Fun Center is CHOC's fourth such unit and will be housed on the third floor of the hospital in the oncology center, with the mobile unit moving from room to room for the children to play with during scheduled play sessions.
"The kids will be able to come in and use it and forget that they're undergoing chemotherapy and what the pain medicines are doing for them making them not feel well," Poidmore said. "So the support of the Children Starlight Foundation and Major League Baseball is huge."
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.