The Drake University men’s basketball time used its time
away from the court this week to visit Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines.
The Bulldogs split up into various groups to visit dozens of children and their
families battling serious medical issues this holiday season.
For some of the Bulldog such as freshman Joey King, the visit was extremely
meaningful and hit close to home and past personal experiences.
“We met a lot of really good people and it meant a lot to me
because they are going through the same situation as my family was with my
brother,” King, whose younger brother has battled cancer, said. “I really felt
for those people and can empathize with their situation.”
The tremendous opportunity to visit with young children who
are dealing with various illness and brighten their day was not lost on the
“I think it was really special for a lot of the kids,” King
added. “I met a little guy who loved playing with the basketball we gave him.
He was really excited about it and genuinely touched. You could tell it meant a
lot to him. When you meet these young kids going through such struggles it
really puts a perspective on things and you realize how fortunate are to be
able to go to school and play basketball.”
Senior Chris Hines,
who admits he has always related well to children and enjoys spending time with
the next generation, was equally in awe of the daunting struggles facing some
of the children and the team’s ability to provide a brief reprieve from the day-to-day
adversity they face.
“One of my highlights was watching this little girl named
Jasmine who had the biggest smile – from ear-to-ear – meeting and playing with
us,” Hines said. “Personally, it means a lot because we take a lot for granted.
It’s heart-wrenching to watch what they’re dealing with, but to be able to make
them smile and lift their mood means a lot.”
The visit was another of the various community projects the
Bulldogs engage in as an important part of the program in which head coach Mark
Phelps has encouraged his team to develop a servant’s mentality in all aspects
of their off-court life.
“As a program, it’s really important for us to have a
service component,” Phelps said. “We talk about service, about serving each
other as teammates and serving the community. It was a great opportunity for us
a team to visit and hopefully lighten the atmosphere for the kids we were able
to see. I felt that our players genuinely enjoyed the opportunity and it meant
a lot to them.”
That opportunity and the chance to give back to what Blank
Children’s Hospital provides to the Des Moines community makes it an especially
important component of the Bulldogs’ service.
“Blank Children’s Hospital is a world class facility with
some of the finest doctors in the world,” Phelps said. “It is an extremely
special place and we’re very fortunate in Des Moines to have a place like Blank