On Monday afternoon, New York Red Bulls midfielder Tim Cahill flew straight from Columbus, OH to Memphis, TN following New York’s 1-1 tie against the Crew last Saturday and visited patients, their families and staff of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®. During his emotional visit at St. Jude, Cahill got a tour of the facility, met the children, and even played some games of Hungry Hungry Hippos. He plans to be back to visit in the future and spread awareness and educate others about St. Jude.
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, founded in 1962, is a pediatric treatment and research facility focused on children's cancer and other deadly diseases. It is one of the world’s premier pediatric cancer research centers. Its mission is to find cures and save children with cancer and other deadly diseases through research and treatment.
For Cahill, he left feeling proud and made a lot of new friends. He was amazed by the facility and how happy of an environment it is for the children and their families.
“The visit today to St. Jude’s Hospital was pretty amazing and a humbling experience,” said Cahill. “I’m a father of four, an athlete, but most importantly to learn that, you know, that this is free for kids to get treatment, the parents stress free. There’s nothing that’s left for them to do other than to reach out, find the best care, the best service, and really I’ve never been involved in something that’s so heartfelt, not only to the treatments but also to the families.”
“It was fantastic in the fact that I got to meet the kids. One of the biggest things that I got out of it was being in an environment of a place where they needed the most drastic treatment but also an environment where it was such a pleasure for the patient and myself to be in. Not feeling like a hospital, all the resources of happiness, the way the people are and everyone understanding more about the emotions of the kids and also the families.”
During his visit, Cahill played games with the children, including Hungry Hungry Hippos. He had some friendly competitors, who had been practicing while waiting for him to arrive.
“Hungry Hippo was pretty competitive. They were ready, they were practiced and giving me a hard time before it even started,” said Cahill, laughing. “It was great because the interaction of the playfulness and the competitiveness all mixed in with a lot of emotions of, you know, the journey that they’re on and also the journey that I’m on personally to educate myself more about the children, what they’re going through and also the drastic diseases of cancer.”
“To be in that environment and to have fun and have lighthearted experiences was really special and definitely something I’ll never forget because I suppose these moments are priceless for an individual like myself and puts into perspective, regardless of what I’ve done in my career, on what’s really important and the impacts of, you know, the basic things of kids having fun and also being lost in a little trance of a game of Hungry Hippos.”
Cahill left St. Jude with plans to be back to visit the children, their families, and staff. Now that he is an ambassador, he plans to continue to educate himself, and others, and raise awareness about cancer and St. Jude.
“To help just makes me feel so proud because I walked around every single part of this facility and I didn’t feel like I was in a hospital and when I met the children I felt a real bond in the fact that they’re so happy with the people they work with and at the same so embracing of somebody like myself to be involved. It’s given me so much more passion and inspiration,” explained Cahill, a father of four.
“The rewards for me is just amazing because I lived and breathed it and I definitely want to be back a lot more and also help provide awareness and educate people to this program and obviously facility where they make it so much easier for families on every single level.”