Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Hoyas Lend a Hand at Georgetown Hospital

Hoya Staff Writer Friday, August 25, 2006 Lindsay Anderson/The Hoya

For a few hours yesterday, Kory Billings, a 10-year-old cancer patient at Georgetown University Hospital, was able to forget all about his troubles. He was attending a kind of mini-circus, complete with multi-colored balloons, video games, large inflated beach balls and firefighter costumes. A man dressed as Batman and a woman who looked like she had stepped out of a J.K. Rowling book made the rounds along with D.C. firefighters – real ones – and a large group of Georgetown varsity athletes. The entire affair was unfolding just outside the building where Kory has come to receive treatment for his leukemia, and it was being organized and staffed in large part by Hoya athletes. It was the kick off for a major effort this year by a group called Hoya Dreams, founded last year by Rob Lemos (SFS ’06) and Dave Bauer (COL ’07), both men’s lacrosse players, as an initiative to link Georgetown athletes with young patients who often watched matches from their nearby hospital windows. In this capacity, the athletes hope to become role models and friends, providing some distraction for kids caught in an often-challenging situation. “When kids are going through stuff like this, outside activities are very important to helping them keep their mind off of the grueling process they’re going through,” Kory’s father, Greg Billings said. “It helps them be kids in the middle of a process that’s not very pleasant.” The inspiration for the program came from a similar project at the University of North Carolina, called Carolina Dreams. Several discussions with Athletic Department administrators and hospital officials later, Hoya Dreams was ready to launch a major new campaign this fall. Nancy Tran, the director of annual giving at Georgetown University Hospital, said that she hoped the effort could include a wide range of athletes from all of the university’s sports teams. Interest in the effort has run high so far among athletic staff, students and hospital officials, she said. “With my job I do get to see a lot of patients on a daily basis. . Sometimes I see the same kids over long periods of time,” she added. “It was just refreshing to see healthy, passionate student-athletes interested in spending time with these kids.” The program’s organizers plan to set up regular visits to the hospital for athletes to meet with children during the course of the school year. The children will also visit some of the athletes’ games and spend time with them outside the campus as part of the program. “I think it’s natural just in terms, number one, of the proximity of the university to the hospital,” said Pat Thomas, Georgetown’s senior associate athletic director, who helped facilitate the agreement between the university and the hospital. “This really just provided an opportunity to develop a comprehensive program, and a program we hope will last long into the future.” The effort seemed a success yesterday, as lacrosse players played football video games with young patients and girls took a break from their hospital stay to wear a robe and crown as “Queen for a Day” or get their faces painted across the courtyard. Lacrosse players Trevor Casey, a senior attacker, and Ryan Still, a senior midfielder, who are leading the athletes’ involvement in the program, said they believed the day had been a success. Both said they looked forward to continuing the program in the future and hoped to make it a long-term staple of Georgetown athletic life. “We practice right over there, and our coach always reminds us how fortunate we are,” Casey said. “Giving back to these kids puts things in perspective for us. … We’re kind of their heroes.”

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