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GU Athletes Team Up with Hospital’s Pediatric Patients

Georgetown Lacrosse

Henry Van Wagenberg (B'12), left, and Adam Donahue (B'12) have continued the men's lacrosse team's tradition of organizing "Hoya Dreams," which partners student-athletes with pediatric patients at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital.

March 9, 2012 – The men’s lacrosse team is helping young patients at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital cope with their illnesses by visiting them and taking them to athletic events when they are well enough to attend.

“Hoya Dreams” has become a part of men’s lacrosse tradition, with senior business majors Adam Donahue and Henry Van Wagenberg serving as the primary organizers of the group since their sophomore year.

The group partners student-athletes with patients in the hospital’s pediatric ward to provide motivation and support.

Bringing out Smiles

“Once we get up there [to the hospital] you really feel fortunate and it really puts things in perspective,” Donahue said. “You’re out every day practicing and competing, you’re tired, but you see the kids and the smiles that it brings and it’s great.”

The hospital appreciates their support.

“I am continually impressed with the kindness, dedication and patience that the athletes in Hoya Dreams have with our pediatric patients here at Georgetown,” said Kathleen Foy, a certified child life specialist. “All the athletes involved in this program make each patient they visit with feel special and allow them to be a normal kid despite being in the hospital.”

Great Tradition

More than 20 student-athletes are involved at any one time – playing board games, watching movies and plan other activities with the girls and boys, and Foy said “the kids love having college athletes sit with them at the games.”

While Hoya Dreams officially began in 2006 with former lacrosse player Rob Lemos, the origin of the relationship between the men’s lacrosse team and the pediatric unit at the hospital goes farther back.

“When I first got here we used to practice up on (Kehoe field) and the pediatric wing overlooked where we were practicing,” Head Coach Dave Urick recalled. “We started to go back and visit … It’s a great tradition.”

Holiday Support

This past December, Hoya Dreams took several children and their families to a Georgetown men’s basketball game. They also volunteered to help prepare for a Christmas Gala to help raise money for the pediatric unit.

And the students will once again help with the hospital’s annual Easter egg hunt, as well the spring Hoya Dreams Day, when they host a trip to a lacrosse game.

Foy said the Hoya Dreams organizers also help her plan and organize the Hoya Dream Day events – attending a basketball game in the fall and a lacrosse game in the spring.

Conscientious Commitment

“Both of those guys are to be commended for their commitment,” Urick said. “They’ve both been doing it for a few years and they work at it conscientiously and as much as they can they try to get other guys involved.”

The seniors say finding volunteers for Hoya Dreams has been easy. If anything, the challenge has been finding a role for the overflow of young men, including underclassmen, who are interested in participating.

“It’s a nice break from school and lacrosse,” Van Wagenberg said. “We are all very fortunate to be here. Georgetown is a great place and it’s important to give back no matter what your role is at the university.”

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