Impact Gold GT Softball team players delivered close to $5,000 worth of presents to sick children at the Christus – St. Elizabeth Effie M. Hebert Pediatric Center on Monday, Dec. 23.
Impact Gold GT is an elite softball organization with seven select teams of players from ages 8-18 and living in Southeast Texas, Houston and Louisiana. The organization develops players from a young age to compete for college softball scholarships, said Deborah Smith, secretary of the board at Impact Gold GT. Smith said the organization has been donating gifts to children who have been admitted at Southeast Texas hospitals during the holidays for more than three years now.
“These kids are sick. They’re not feeling well, so it brightens their day,” Smith said of the hospitalized children receiving gifts. “If someone is motivated and in good spirits, it helps them to feel better, which helps them to relax and helps the healing process.”
The benevolent act also builds character, added Impact Gold GT president and coach Bryan Sartin.
Kamryn Smith, 11, said she believes it is extremely important to give to the children who have to spend their Christmas in a hospital bed.
“They don’t get to wake up in the morning and walk to the living room and open all these presents,” she said. “They have to stay in the hospital. It makes me happy to be able to do this.”
After gathering on the lawn outside the main entrance to St. Elizabeth Hospital, softball players and parents made their way up the long, winding ramp to the doors of the hospital with wagons of toys for boys and girls. On the hospital’s fifth floor, ill children were unexpectedly delighted by a visit from the players and Santa, himself.
Six-year-old James Blake of Silsbee was in the hospital for a stomach virus, his mother, Mandy Harris said.
“His white blood cell count was extremely high,” Harris said. “It was supposed to be 15,000, but his was 24,000.” Harris said she and her son had been in the hospital since Saturday, Dec. 21.
Blake was greeted by softball players and Santa Claus and given Hot Wheels, a football and other toys. Although it was difficult for the team to elicit a smile from Blake, his mood seemed much improved and his mother was appreciative of the presents and effort the team put forth.
“He’s happy that they are bringing him these gifts,” Harris said, adding that the hospital staff brought Blake gifts, as well. “It’s really nice that they do this.”
Marilla Barry, an 8-month-old baby girl from Vidor, was in the hospital to have an abscess drained, her mother, Meg, said, but seemed to be recovering well and was happy and playful with Santa Claus.
Marilla received a shape sorter toy, a stuffed animal and other presents from 10-year-old softball player Karsyn Laurents, who plays third base.
“This will give her something to chew on,” Barry said. “She’s been trying so hard to chew on the IV (line) and all the medical equipment.”
Both children were expected to be released from the hospital before Christmas, their parents said.
“Impact Gold is a very good organization,” said Shawn Adams, assistant administrator of finance at Christus. “We really appreciate it (the donations) because we have a lot of kids in our pediatric unit who have to be away from their families over the holidays. It’s tough enough to be in the hospital, but to be at the hospital during the holidays is that much harder. For them to have kids come and bring them toys, have Santa come and see them, means so much to them.”
The organization also delivered presents to children at Baptist Hospital in Beaumont, The Medical Center of Southeast Texas in Port Arthur, Salvation Army, Buckner Children’s Village, Girls’ Haven and Boys’ Haven, among other places.
For more information about Impact Gold GT, visit www. impactgoldgt.com.