June 6, 2014
Story by Janet Mezzarobba
They came bearing gold, silver and bronze.
Eighteen Canadian Olympic and Paralympic athletes from the 2014 Sochi Games visited Alberta Children’s Hospital on June 5 as part of a three-day, cross-Canada Olympic Heroes Tour.
The tour — which included stops at Ronald McDonald Houses, schools, and hospitals in Ottawa, Edmonton, Banff, Red Deer and Calgary — gave patients and visitors at Alberta Children’s Hospital the opportunity to interact and enjoy an afternoon with their favourite Olympic heroes, while sharing some of their own heroic experiences.
“Anyone would love to meet an Olympic athlete,” says Sandy Baggott, Discipline Lead, Child Life. “When you’re a patient in the hospital, to have the distraction, and opportunity to meet these athletes helps our patients forget about their day-to-day regime at the hospital and have some fun.”
Patients and athletes alike participated in an afternoon of Olympic-style games, a photo booth, and an Olympic tattoo parlour, while sharing stories and personal experiences.
“We took a picture, got a tattoo, and now we’re going to play ring toss,” says sisters Hailie, 7, and Ava Arcand, 8.
The athletes say they had a great time.
“It’s great to see the twinkle in the eyes of the patients we visit with, and see how they’re inspired by our medals,” says figure skater and silver medallist Kevin Reynolds. “It’s inspiring for us, as well as for them. It makes us feel that what we are doing is worth it.”
Gold medallist Ina Forrest agrees.
“It’s nice to visit the hospital where the kids don’t have the chance to go out and see the events,” says the Paralympic curler. “This gives us an opportunity to share our Olympic experience, while hearing about their experiences.”