Olympic athletes trade smiles with LLU Children’s Hospital patients
Natasha Watley (left), 2004 Olympic gold medalist, plays doubles ping-pong with patient Jesse Pimental at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital on September 11.
Patients at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital will be smiling for a long time after benefiting from a doubleheader of Olympic athlete studded-events on September 10 and 11.
On Sunday evening, September 10, 12 Olympic athletes representing a wide range of Olympic sports joined with patients and physicians from the Children’s Hospital to play a lighthearted, five-inning game of softball at Arrowhead Stadium in San Bernardino. The game was played right after the Inland Empire 66er’s won their second game against the Lake Ellsinore Storm in a best of five series playoff.
The Olympic athletes included Chad Hedrick, 2006 Olympic gold, silver, and bronze medalist in speed skating; Joey Cheek, 2006 Olympic gold and silver medalist and 2002 bronze medalist; Tristan Gale, Olympic gold medalist in skeleton; Valerie Fleming and Shauna Rohbock, 2006 Olympic silver medalists in the bobsled; Rusty Smith, 2006 Olympic bronze medalist in short track; Christian Niccum, 2006 Olympian in luge; Todd Hays, 2002 Olympic silver medalist in the bobsled; Jeret Peterson, 2006 Olympian in aerial skiing; Natasha Watley and Amanda Freed, 2004 Olympic gold medalists in softball; and hometown hero Derek Parra, 2002 Olympic gold and silver medalist in speed skating.
The softball game ended in a 9 to 2 win for the black team captained by Derek Parra over the red team captained by Rusty Smith, of Long Beach.
Monday morning the athletes made a visit to the Children’s Hospital to visit and play with the patients who were not able to attend the softball game. The 66er’s mascot, Bernie, came along for the fun, as patients got their photos taken with the Olympic athletes and challenged them at games of air hockey, foosball, and ping-pong among other carnival games.
The athletes spent two hours from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. playing with the patients before the event ended.
By Preston Clarke Smith
The two softball teams of Olympians, patients, and doctors gather for a photo after the final out. Even though the black team won handily, everyone enjoyed the event.