New York Mets star Michael Conforto, a 25-year-old outfielder who was an All-Star last season, recently said that he wanted to lead by example. “If I am going to be a guy who is going to be sticking around,” said Conforto, “I’ve got to step into a little bit more of a leadership role.” While Conforto was talking about his role on the field, he’s been displaying plenty of leadership off the field. Today, “Scooter,” as he’s also known, visited with more than 50 youngsters at Cancer Center for Kids at NYU Winthrop Hospital as well as its Children’s Medical Center. The visit was part of Conforto Cares, a program established by the player to raise awareness about pediatric cancer and the challenges faced by young patients. As part of the program, Conforto had already hosted young NYU Winthrop patients and their families at Citi Field, but Conforto wanted to do more; he wanted to come and see where the youngsters are being treated and spread sunshine and hope in these important places.
“My goal is to bring cheer and inspiration to these young children while also raising the visibility of pediatric cancer and other childhood diseases,” said Conforto. “The Mets have been extremely supportive of my efforts, caring deeply about their communities and helping me to give back. I hope to inspire these young patients to stay determined. If we, as a broader community, stay determined, maybe one day there will be more cures for childhood diseases.”
Conforto distributed Mets t-shirts to the pediatric patients and family members. He also handed out pop-up replicas of the Mets homerun apple and presented autographed photos.
The event followed on the heels of patients and family members visiting Citi Field last month at Michael Conforto’s invitation. During that outing, the youngsters were given a tour of the stadium and Mets clubhouse, and they were shown scoreboard operations including how to raise the homerun apple in centerfield. The children also enjoyed batting practice in the Mets batting cages and joined Conforto for lunch in the ballpark. Michael Conforto was so inspired by the spirit of these young patients during their visit that it prompted him to expand his program and initiate visits into the communities, such as the one held today.
“Michael’s desire to create special experiences for these children and their families really makes a difference,” said Mark E. Weinblatt, MD, chief of pediatric hematology–oncology at NYU Winthrop and director of the Cancer Center for Kids. “Children look up to professional athletes and meeting one like Michael Conforto and getting special memorabilia, it renews the vitality of these young patients and that’s so important.”
Added Conforto, “It’s a privilege to help these children forget about the rigors of their treatments and just enjoy being kids.”
The Cancer Center for Kids at NYU Winthrop Hospital offers a range of early detection, diagnostic, intervention, and treatment services, both inpatient and outpatient, for children’s cancers and blood disorders. Dramatic improvements have been made in pediatric cancer patient survival, with nearly 80 percent of children cured of their malignancies. Each Cancer Center for Kids patient receives the latest treatment regimens, and most participate in national protocols that serve to further the science and treatment of childhood malignancies. Conditions treated at the Center include leukemia and lymphomas; bone, soft tissue and brain tumors; hemophilia; sickle cell disease and more.
NYU Winthrop Hospital Children’s Medical Center offers broad-scoped inpatient specialty programs and services. The medical center also features a Child Life Program aimed at easing the fears and anxiety of children who are hospitalized, addressing their emotional needs through play, fun-filled activities, education and support. The Children’s Medical Center was recently named to U.S. News & World Report’s 2018–19 “Best Children’s Hospitals” rankings as one of the best children’s hospitals in the New York metro area and for demonstrating excellence in the area of pediatric diabetes and endocrinology.