Cash family plots special holiday

Cash family plots special holiday

ST. PETERSBURG -- Kevin Cash and his family planned a reunion with old friends on Thanksgiving at St. Petersburg's All Children's Hospital.

"It's kind of a Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday event," the Rays' manager said. "On Thanksgiving morning we're going to go over there and help decorate and then help serve some food and get the food and try and put some smiles on some young kids' faces. They probably don't have a ton to smile about, but if we can get them to smile a little bit, that's the most important thing."

The Cash clan expected a memorable day.

"All Children's is close to us," Cash said. "Our first born, Camden, she had some heart complications and spent many nights and many days there in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. And ultimately when she had her heart surgery, that's where we decided to have it done. This is an incredible group of people who do a lot of good things for our local kids or kids throughout the world. So when the opportunity presented itself to kind of work with them and team up, anything [my wife] Emily and I can do to help, we were all for it."

Cash credited Rick Vaughn, Rays vice president of communications, for "setting everything in motion."

"We went over to All Children's and saw all of the facilities," Cash said. "I mean, it's amazing how much it's changed. It was nice when our daughter was there, but it's even nicer now. The new facility, the new building."

Cash understands from firsthand experience how vulnerable and terrified parents can be when their child is facing dire consequences.

"You basically entrust the people at All Children's with your child, and the people that work there are just amazing with what they do every day," he said. "Meeting with them and walking into the room -- we actually walked into the new NICU, it was a unique experience because it brought us back nine years ago, what our thoughts were.

"We saw the parents sitting there waiting and just kind of sitting by their daughters and sons, and it brought back a lot of memories, and we're extremely grateful for where Camden's at now. But anything we can do to help those families along, we figured let's jump at that opportunity."

While the Cash family's goal is to make the holiday a better day for the patients and their families, they also believe the experience will benefit their daughters, Camden (9) and Ella (7).

"They do really well talking to the kids and playing with them," Cash said. "They built this massive room that's just loaded with toys and movie screens. I'm sure our kids will get in there and play with anybody who comes in.

"Just because kids are in All Children's doesn't mean they can't celebrate the holidays. So hopefully, we, along with the Rays can bring something to them."

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