Athletes Deliver JoyJars to Patients at Miller Children’s Hospital

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Miller Children’s patient, Sofia, wears two World Series rings belonging to former Los Angeles Dodgers Outfielder, Skip Schmaker, during his visit with the Jessie Rees Foundation.

On Wednesday, Jan. 15, the Jessie Rees Foundation paid a special visit to Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach with four-time Olympic medalist, Kaitlin Sandeno; Cincinnatti Reds outfielder, Skip Schumaker (formerly of the Los Angeles Dodgers); and UFC Welterweight contender, Jake Ellenberger, who brought joy and provided a welcome distraction to hospitalized patients and their families by distributing JoyJars stuffed with toys.

As part of the Jessie Rees Foundation’s “All Star” program, Sandeno, Schumaker and Ellenberger distributed JoyJars to patients throughout the hospital. Each JoyJar contains 15 – 20 new, age-appropriate toys within its brightly covered sealed jar. 

The athletes visited two of the Miller Children’s playrooms while on their tour through the hospital and shared their experiences with patients and their families. Sandeno, who is a four-time Olympic medalist, brought three of her medals to show patients, and Schumaker showed two World Series rings he earned with the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Jessie Rees Foundation and their “All Stars” brought along the new Mobile JoyFactory which allows patients to select a JoyJar and hand pick the items that go into them. Taking the cart with them to the rooms of patients who were not able to visit the playrooms, Sandeno, Schumaker and Ellenberger provided a unique experience to these patients.

“The Mobile JoyFactory is a great addition to the JoyJar ‘All Star’ visits,” said Sandeno. “Getting the chance to interact with these kids and letting them choose their own toys and gifts add a more personal touch to these visits.”

The Jessie Rees Foundation is a pediatric cancer foundation inspired by 12-year-old Jessie Rees. Jessie, who fought two brain tumors for more than 10 months, passed away in January 2012. During her courageous fight, Jessie focused on spreading hope, joy and love to other kids fighting cancer. She knew that having cancer made you feel lonely and limited, so she chose to spread love stuffed in her JoyJars. The foundation she started now serves 260 children’s hospitals and every Ronald McDonald House in America and in 18 different countries.

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