Three Islanders took time out of their busy schedules to bring some holiday cheer to children Tuesday afternoon at in West Islip.
Forwards Bruno Gervais, Rob Schremp and defenseman Mark Eaton travelled east to spend their afternoon delivering toys--which they each picked out-- to a number of the children in the intensive care unit.
"It's so important when the community recognizes these kids are sick, especially over the holidays," said Joan Alpers, director of the hospital's Children Life Program. "It's doubly important when you have stars come by to spend some time. It really helps to sooth families over during the holidays."
Despite arriving back in New York at 5 a.m. Tuesday morning after a grueling trip home from Nashville due to inclement weather, the players were as friendly and personable as ever, making the children feel right at home.
"Just seeing them cracking a smile when I walk in," Gervais said. "We tried to change their routine a bit and make it a little different for them hopefully feels great for them. For us, we try to do whatever we can to make them smile and have a good time."
Many of the children were excited to see the players, including Bernard Tony, who was sporting an Islanders shirt and celebrated his birthday on Monday.
"It's amazing," said Ebony Brown, Bernard's mother. "I think that they really made his birthday. Being in a hospital on your birthday's not fun, but they made him feel much better."
Seven-year-old Nicholas Attansio had a long conversation with the players about sports, mostly football. Nicholas, who will turn eight on December 19, admitted that though his favorite sport is football, he has a newfound love for hockey, thanks to his new friends on the Islanders.
"He was loving it," said Stefanie Attansio, Nicholas' mother. "He's very happy to see them. Before we tried to get him to go to hockey games, but he didn't want to. Now, he'll want to go for sure."
Nicholas interjected, "I do!"
The players spent time going from room to room, discussing sports, Jersey Shore episodes, how Schremp got his brand new scar over his left eye, and whatever else the patients desired.
"It just helps lift their spirits a little bit, take their mind off whatever's going on in their life," Schremp said. "The opportunity to meet a professional athlete and New York Islanders probably isn't something they get to do every day so it's a bit of a treat for them, hopefully we made them smile a little bit."