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Leesburg, VA, (03/31/21) – As a professional soccer franchise in the nation’s capital, the Washington Spirit is committed to making an impact on those around us. Since driving change is a collaborative effort, we’ve partnered with a number of incredible organizations to fully serve those in the community.
Now, we want to help you get to know these organizations. Today, our community spotlight will feature the lovely folks at Children’s National.
One of the core pillars of the Washington Spirit community initiatives is to help children, especially those who are in the hospital. That’s why the Spirit are so happy to partner with Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C.
The partnership has been ongoing for many years but really took off during the pandemic when the Spirit and Children’s National participated in a buddy program. This program matched patients with Spirit players to give both sides someone to chat within a time that felt so isolating, especially for those children in the hospital.
When Kelley O’Hara joined the Spirit in late November, she was determined to be an influential part of the community. O’Hara had the opportunity to be a virtual guest at Seacrest Studios, a radio and television studio in the hospital that gives the patients the opportunity to feel like a star. Numerous patients had the chance to ask O’Hara questions, but one teenage patient made a special connection. As a soccer player herself, this patient was able to really appreciate the unique experience.
“They had so many connections and [O’Hara] was able to answer so many of her questions,” said Terry Spearman, Director of the Department of Child Life and Integrative Care Services at Children’s National. “It was just really uplifting for this patient, it made a big, big difference in her hospital stay. We appreciated that connection so much and it meant so much to that patient and her family.”
After that interaction, Dr. Kurt Newman, President and CEO of Children’s National, was inspired and wanted to get involved with the Spirit. In February, he joined a list of more than two dozen new investors for the club.
Children’s National not only is an important hospital in this country, but it is also a leading research institution.
“We are nationally recognized for our care,” Spearman said. “We are one of the top ten hospitals in the country. We have the Sheikh Zayed Research Center and we are now partnering with our partners for what we call the research and innovation campus, which is now where the old Walter Reed Hospital used to be. Hopefully, we will be able to find cures and answers for all of these childhood illnesses and diseases and things that plague children.”
While in-person volunteer opportunities are limited, there are still ways to get involved to help the hospital and all the patients and families at Children’s National. To donate, head to childrensnational.org/giving.