The boys of summer brought some sunshine to movie theater shooting victims at University Hospital Thursday.
Twelve Colorado Rockies players, and their coach, visit four patients in critical condition and one who is serious.
They step away from the game to help the injured and their families--not with medicine or technology--but with support and encouragement.
“Anything we can do to divert their attention, make them think of something else, maybe put a smile on their face, that lets them know that we care,” says first baseman Todd Helton.
First stop is victim Dion Rosborough, 39.
The team gathers round his bedside--offering him a signed baseball--and a rare opportunity for laughter.
“’You a Rockies fan?’ Someone asks Rosborough as he lies in his hospital bed. He replies, ‘No.’” And the room erupts into laughter.
Then, they make the trek to the intensive care unit--where they find the little brother of one of the four victims in critical condition, Yousef Garbi.
Noah Gharbi, 12, stands and watches each player sign his baseball.
They move from room to room and see they’re making an impact on lifting their spirits.
“A guy teased Todd a little bit about him getting a little bigger. I didn’t personally see it. But it made us laugh. And it definitely made the room laugh,” says Rockies outfielder Eric Young Jr.
“It’s just a great feeling to see how much support we all have,” says shooting victim Mike White. He was shot in his shoulder blade; the bullet went through his lung, broke a rib and exited out his back. The hospital released him two days ago.
But he remains by the side of his injured girlfriend, Farrah Soudani, 22.
“She was in tears. It really hit a nerve for her,” says White.
The athletes also seem to be the cure for hospital staff--bringing excitement, happiness, and plenty of photo ops.
But the visit makes the team a little reflective.
“You really wonder how fair that is. But it makes you realize I think that God has a plan for everyone, for every single one of us. And there was a beginning and none of us know when the end comes,” says coach Jim Tracy.
Normally, these athletes get all the recognition and applause. But on Thursday, they led the cheers.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with them, especially after we make a visit like this and you realize how significant it is,” says Tracy.
And while they may not have the best record on the field this season, here, they are true champions.
“They invited us to see a game. I am definitely going to do that,’ says White.
The other visiting players include: Matt Belisle, Rex Brothers, Michael Cuddyer, Mike Ekstrom, Christian Friedrich, Adam Ottavino, Jordan Pacheco, Drew Pomeranz, Josh Roenicke, and Josh Rutledge.