On Monday, Toronto Blue Jays pitchers Mark Buehrle, Drew Hutchison, Bo Schultz with wife Neha, and Liam Hendriks with wife Kristi, left their gloves and cleats behind and travelled to Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital in Toronto to spend the day with some very deserving fans.
When the players, wives and staff members arrived, they were greeted by many children and their families who were dressed head to toe in Blue Jays gear. The players spent time distributing Blue Jays hats and signing autographs for many of the hospital's inpatients before engaging in a game of wheelchair tee-ball in the Kinder Foundation gymnasium.
"[The visit] is something that our kids look forward to every summer, it means a lot. A lot of kids aren't able to make it out to games during the year because of [their] medical treatments and being here for therapy" said Katherine Upshall, certified child life specialist at Bloorview. "We have kids with traumatic head injuries, spinal cord injuries, with orthopedic issues, recovering from surgeries, and most requiring intensive therapy multiple times a day, five days a week."
The children were thrilled to show off their abilities and offer advice to the Blue Jays players on how they could improve their wheelchair tee-ball skills. Despite leading the American League East, it was evident that the kids were the ones who were teaching their idols a thing or two about the sport.
"It's a lot of work. We realized how much effort it takes for these kids to do it on a day in and day out basis, and it just shows their strength and their character" said Hendriks.
Not only was the day a blast for the players, but it was a unique opportunity for the patients. It provided many of the kids with a great break from treatment and a chance to interact with inspirational athletes. Drew Hutchison recalled his arm surgery a few years back and the recovery that it entailed. "It was a yearlong rehab process and I understand how frustrating rehab can be and not always fun. That's why it's good to come out and spend a little bit of time and let them have a little bit of fun and take a break from what they're going through."
The gym was full of smiles and excitement as the Blue Jays spent time getting to know each patient.
Throughout the season, Buehrle, Hendriks, Hutchison and Schultz have made it a priority to participate in various hospital and school visits in order to interact with children in the community.
Jessica Wood is a contributor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.