Children living with serious illnesses, their families, and volunteers from Chai Lifeline West Coast Sohacheski Family Center, a health support network which provides emotional, social, and financial support to children with life-threatening or lifelong illnesses and their families, enjoyed a day at the ballpark rooting for their hometown LA Dodgers on July 30. Thanks to the generosity of the Dodgers organization, 250 children, family members, volunteers and friends filled an entire section of the stadium as they watched the Dodgers take on the Milwaukee Brewers.
The evening is a highly anticipated event among Chai Lifeline families. They enjoy excellent baseball and feast on hotdogs generously sponsored by Jeff’s Gourmet Hotdogs. The Dodgers donated LA Dodger alarm clocks, baseball cards and stickers to all the children. Legions of volunteers showered families with fun nosh and souvenirs throughout the game.
As the Dodgers and the Brewers provided excitement on the field, Chai Lifeline’s enthusiastic team of volunteers got the families “pumped up,” creating almost as much action in the stands as there was on the field. With their unlimited energy, the volunteers barely sat for more than a few minutes as they moved from family to family ensuring that they were having a good time and creating smiles abound. There was so much fun and excitement that barely anyone noticed the 20-minute delay on the field due to a power outage.
The children’s enthusiasm was infectious, as was the evident love and regard that volunteers have for Chai Lifeline families. At the end of the game, a delegation from another section approached Randi Grossman, Chai Lifeline’s west coast regional director. “They came over to thank us for the love and happiness that emanated from our section. They were inspired by our volunteers’ engagement and assistance to families.” She added that the Dodgers and stadium personnel also went out of their way to assure that children and families were comfortable. “They take great care of our kids. We love coming every year.”
Chai Lifeline’s partnership with the Los Angeles Dodgers has flourished over 18 years, growing from a small delegation of families to its current size. Dodger Night is one of two-dozen programs and services offered by Chai Lifeline West Coast that bring joy and laughter back into the lives of families whose lives have been impacted by pediatric illness. All Chai Lifeline programs and services are offered at no cost to these families.
Ms. Grossman said that the event is critically important for families, particularly new clients and their parents. “Young patients and their siblings make friends with others also living with illness in their homes. Parents connect with others who understand the dynamics of raising a child with serious medical challenges. Sometimes parents need to experience an afternoon of laughter and fun to really know that it’s possible to live full lives while fighting deadly illnesses.”