MORRISTOWN, NJ – Three players from the New Jersey Devils hockey organization – starting goaltender Cory Schneider, alternate captain Mike Cammalleri, and defenseman David Schlemko – made a special visit to patients and their families in the pediatric ward at the Goryeb Children’s Hospital located at the Morristown Medical Center today as part of their annual holiday tradition in giving back to the community.
The players signed autographs, took photos and even shared a few laughs with children and their families as they spread some cheer around the hospital in the afternoon. The trio were among the eight groups of Devils players who attended different area hospitals throughout New Jersey.
“This time of year especially is tough for them to be in this type of setting and to be away from home with their families, it’s hard on everybody,” said Schneider, who currently holds the ninth best save percentage (.926) in the NHL. “We just hope that we can come in and brighten their day up to get them a little excited and try to bring some cheer during the holidays. It may seem like a small thing, but if it helps at all we’re more than happy to do it.”
The Devils leading point scorer this season had similar sentiments on today’s visit with the children and their families.
“It’s a difficult situation that a lot of these children and their families are in now during the holiday season and to be part of putting smiles on their faces means a lot,” said Cammalleri, one of the leaders of the team, who is currently tied for sixth in the league in points scored (30) through 28 games this season.
Cammalleri, a 14-year NHL veteran has embraced his role as a leader on the team since being name one of the alternate captains prior to the start of the season.
“It’s special, there’s a lot of responsibility that comes with that,” Cammalleri said speaking on his leadership role with the team. “I enjoy it and it’s something that I’m very proud of.”
Kathryn Sevean who has been at the hospital since Tuesday, has an older brother who plays hockey and she has been to the Prudential Center many times to watch her brother practice. "I can't wait to go home and show this to my brother, Tyler", said Sevean holding her autographed cap.
“It’s absolutely amazing that the players were able to take time out of their busy days to come and visit all of the children here,” said Kristin Holtzman, Child Life Specialist at the Goryeb Children’s Hospital. “Just them walking on the floor visiting with all of the patients just brightens everyone’s day, the kids really look forward to it and are very excited to meet the players that they look up to.”
Sean Bonner was in his hospital room with the players walked in. "I was in shock seeing the players walk into my room", said Sean Bonner. "I'm not going to watch the Rangers anymore, the Devils are my favorite now!"
"I see them playing on tv and then in to come in person, I guess I just didn't expect them to be so tall", he exclaimed.
Bonner held on to his autographed hat and said he would "wear and save it".
"Everything has gone wrong for him this week", said Bonner's mom Gina. "This was just awesome. With all the doctors poking and prodding him all the time, this got his mind off of that. This was the brightest spot of the whole week".