After the Dallas Stars hit the ice for practice on Thursday, a handful of players headed over to visit with patients at the Children’s Medical Center in Dallas. The group included Jamie Benn, Colin Miller, Jason Robertson, Radek Faksa, Roope Hintz, Miro Heiskanen, Joel Kiviranta, Matej Blumel, and Wyatt Johnston.
“It’s so cool. We haven’t done this for a few years now, so it’s definitely fun to come here, hang out with the kids, and put a smile on their face,” Benn said.
The visit was packed with activities like basketball, arts & crafts, a Dallas Stars vs Dallas Stars game of NHL 22, private room visits, and even a broadcast from the fully functional Seacrest Studios, where kids could ask players all types of questions both in person and over Zoom and text for those that were unable to make it out of their rooms.
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The conversations ranged from favorite animals to funniest things that have happened in a game, and they even got to see Wyatt Johnston attempt to sing along to a Disney song.
“Cows are very underrated,” Johnston said about his animal of choice.
Before the pandemic, this visit was a regular, multiple time per year occurrence for the Stars. But because of COVID and all of the regulations that came with it, the team has been unable to take part since late in 2019. Now with things back close to normalcy, the guys are excited to get back into a tradition as meaningful to them as it is to the kids.
“It means a lot,” Benn said. “This is the first of a couple of times we are going to do it this year. It’s always fun to come out here, get away from our day-to-day jobs and life and just hang out with these kids and have a little fun.”
“Just as much as it was for the kids, I think their parents were just as happy,” Robertson said. “If we could make their days a little better, I think it was great."
These types of events are special for everyone involved. The impact on the kids and their families is evident and for the players, it gives them a glimpse into the truly life-changing battles that others are going through, which can provide a sense of gratitude both on the ice and in their daily lives.
“They are so strong and brave,” Benn said. “They’ve got a lot of heart. They have been through a lot but staying strong at the same time.”
“We’re lucky enough to do our jobs and play hockey but it’s also good to step back and realize that some other people got some other things going on,” he added. “We’re just trying to do our part here.”