Papi pays visit to children at MassGeneral

Red Sox slugger has made pediatric care a personal mission over the years

Papi pays visit to children at MassGeneral

BOSTON -- As David Ortiz made his way through Massachusetts General Hospital on Thursday to visit pediatric patients in the hopes of raising their spirits, the Red Sox slugger had a simple message for each child: Never stop dreaming.

"In my case, I always look at it on the positive side. Through the years I see so many kids in pain that are going in and out of surgery, and the minute they see me, it's like they forget about the pain," Ortiz said. "That's important to me. That's why I want to take the time to come and see kids. That could be us tomorrow."

His organization, the David Ortiz Children's Fund, provides critical pediatric health care to children in New England and the Dominican Republic. Raising over $2 million, the fund has provided over 200 children with lifesaving heart surgery in his native country.

Weaving in and out of the children's rooms during the visit, Ortiz made sure to greet parents with a smile and say a friendly "Hello" to doctors and nurses. He also got a look at the recently dedicated David Ortiz Children's Fund Pediatric Examining Room.

"It's one of those things that you never dream of. Like I say, a lot of things have to happen to get to this point. To have something named after me is an honor," Ortiz said.

"I'm very attached to MassGeneral. Since I've been here in Boston, plenty of things have happened. One of my kids was born here in 2004. It's a relationship that keeps getting stronger and stronger."

The majority of the funds raised for Ortiz's organization are through its annual celebrity golf classic. This year's event will take place in the Dominican Republic from Dec. 3-6. In its first seven years, the event raised $1.25 million.

Ortiz also launched an online auction benefiting the David Ortiz Children's Fund and Massachusetts General for Children on Thursday that runs through Dec. 5.

Helping children in need has become an even more personal mission for Ortiz since he has become a father of three.

"I know the struggle. I have kids. I show them that life isn't just roses and flowers," Ortiz said. "A lot of people struggle and don't have the possibilities that they have."

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In 2011, Ortiz won the Roberto Clemente Award by Major League Baseball for his work with the David Ortiz Children's Fund.

"Whenever I have the opportunity to come here and visit kids and friends or family, Mass General has always had the door open for me. I always let them know that whatever and whenever they need me, I am always available, said Ortiz.

"I love hanging out with kids and being here. I'm going to continue doing this as long as I can."

Quinn Roberts is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.