Blue Jays' visit to children's hospital is special

Blue Jays' visit to children's hospital is special

TORONTO -- Members of the Toronto Blue Jays, their wives and front office staff visited Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital on Friday to spend the afternoon with some very deserving fans.

Holland Bloorview is Canada's largest children's rehabilitation hospital, and its state-of-the-art facility allows for the integration of therapy and sport while enhancing the quality of life for children with disabilities and their families.

During their visit, the Blue Jays were able to see the importance of the work of the hospital staff and experience how hard they strive every day to make their clients smile.

Gallery: Blue Jays visit Holland Bloorview

General manager Ross Atkins and Jessica and Michael Saunders, Brittani and Drew Storen, Amanda and Kevin Pillar, Kristin and Justin Smoak and Jason Grilli were greeted by 5-year-old Peyton, who was eager to introduce the group to her friends waiting in the hospital's gymnasium. The players spent time distributing Blue Jays hats and T-shirts and signing autographs for many of the hospital's inpatients before participating in a variety of Blue Jays-themed activities and games, which included a photo station, colouring tent and inflatable pitching cage. The children were thrilled to show off their abilities with the inflatable pitching simulator, and they were quick to offer advice and feedback to Atkins.

Grilli was making his first community appearance as a member of the Blue Jays and took to Twitter immediately following the visit: "My heart is full! I only wish I could do more. Thank you @HBKidsHospital for having me."

Not only was the day a blast for the players, but it was a unique opportunity for the patients. It provided many of the kids with a great break from treatment and a chance to interact with inspirational athletes. The gym was full of smiles and excitement as the players and their wives spent time getting to know each patient.

"We are incredibly fortunate to have such a caring and engaged group of players and families affiliated with the Blue Jays organization," said Holly Gentemann, the team's community marketing and player relations manager. "They are actively involved in a variety of our community initiatives, and there is no shortage of respect for both the organizations and individuals that we have had the privilege to meet and work with.

"Each season Blue Jays players and their families make it a priority to get involved in club community initiatives such as visits like this to Holland Bloorview. Their efforts to put a smile on the faces of those around them and to give back to a community that has embraced them so much, is something that the club is extremely proud of."

Shannon Curley works in the Community Marketing department for the Blue Jays.