On Sunday, the Nationals hosted the Children's National Medical Center for the third annual Children's Day at Nationals Park. The event honors the Nationals' partnership with Children's Hospital and the team's ongoing commitment to building a pediatric diabetes care complex.
Children who receive treatment at the facility enjoyed pre-game activities, delivered the ceremonial first pitch and line-up card, took the field for the "starting 9" and announced "play ball." Special tickets for Sunday's game against the Dodgers served as a fundraiser for the hospital. They also conducted a 50/50 raffle throughout the game with a lucky winner receiving $500 and 4 Baseline Box tickets to a future Nationals game.
On Friday, Ryan Zimmerman and Matt Capps met with patients undergoing treatment at the facility. Nationals players make frequent visits to the hospital to lift spirits and show support for the children.
"It brightens them up," said closer Matt Capps. "It's the least we can do to be in our position and to have them and their families look up to us and admire what we do. For us to walk in there and say hello, put a smile on somebody's face, it's a very humbling experience. That's the only way I can put it."
"It really opens your eyes as to how fortunate we are," Capps continued. "Those kids and those families are dealing with real life issues and it kind of puts in perspective if I have a bad night on a baseball field. I'm still going to wake up. I'm still going to feel good. It's very humbling every time I go and see something like that."
The Pediatric Diabetes Care Complex project began back in 2007 to raise awareness about the growing epidemic. The project will include state-of-the-art treatment rooms and a multi-functional education center with classrooms, a media room, a demonstration kitchen, kiosks and other tools.
"We've been together since 2007 and It's been pretty seamless," said Marla Lerner Tanenbaum, Chair of the Nationals Dream Foundation. "We help them to promote the partnership, to tell people that we're in this for the long run, not just for a ribbon cutting ceremony. And to educate people about diabetes. We are at a point where we've achieved our fundraising goal," she continued.
The Dream Foundation donated $2 million in cash and assets throughout this process to build the complex. Now, the parties will move forward to the design face of building this facility.
"We're moving into the happening phase," said Dr. Fran Cogen, Diabetes Program Director and an avid Washington Nationals fan.
"The Washington Nationals been very supportive. It's nice to have a team that promotes wellness. With lifestyle changes, you can decrease your risk of getting Type II Diabetes. So here we are affiliated with a sports team which is very well conditioned physically to stay healthy and that can maybe motivate our population," Cogen continued.