Isabella Cerrato is recovering from heart surgery. On Tuesday morning, the 6-year-old woke up as early as she could, set a timer and waited.
Isabella, along with other 30 young patients, left their rooms to choose, dress and play with stuffed toys Tuesday when the green and gold elephant mascot “Stomper” from the Oakland A’s and the Major Baseball League umpire crew visited UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in San Francisco to bring cheer to the children.
“We’ve been here for five weeks, and this was really a break for her,” said Isabella’s father, Elvis Cerrato. “She waits for this kind of event to have fun because she has been through a lot.”
The mascot “Stomper” and the umpires’ crew of four Tuesday brought 100 stuffed toys — bears, monkeys, minions and dinosaurs— as well as outfits for them to about 80 UCSF patients and their families at the Build-A-Bear Workshop.
Around 30 children came to the hospital’s playroom to build the toys, as well as to play and talk with umpires and Stomper, Amanda McGee, a volunteer and community liaison at UCSF, said. The umpires visited 50 more children at their bedside and in outpatient treatment.
“A lot of these kids are really sick, and this is a highlight of their day,” said Jim Wenzel, father of 12-year-old Maddie.
Six-year-old Dawson Lobao is an oncology leukemia survivor and was not allowed to eat the day of the event in preparation of an magnetic resonance imaging.
“If he didn’t have an activity like this today, he would probably be in his room yelling at me, angry,” his mother Mandy Lobao said.
Instead, Dawson talked to umpires about sports and his dream to become a baseball player, his mother said.
“It just puts the smile on a kid’s face, and for that little moment of the day we are able to take their minds of why they are here,” said Jerry Meals, an umpire.
The umpires were scheduled to work at the the Giants vs. Pittsburgh Pirates game Tuesday night and visited the hospital as part of the UMPS CARE Charities BLUE for Kids program. The charity seeks to enrich the lives of at-risk youth and children coping with serious illness, aid Ryan Woodcock, a spokesperson for the program, said in a statement.
“Events like this are really about normality, but also about giving [children] a way from the confines of their room, so they have a non-hospital experience in a hospital,” said Suzanne Leigh, a spokesperson for UCSF.