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Final Four stars bring Euroleague for Life to young patients
Hospital visit gallery
The official portion of 2009 Final Four weekend started with a highlight both for some lucky players and very special fans on Thursday morning. A dozen players from Final Four teams CSKA Moscow, Olympiacos, Panathinaikos and Regal FC Barcelona brought smiles to faces of patiens and families during a visit to the Children's Cancer Station at the Virchow Hospital in Berlin. The players spent an hour at the hospital on Thursday to sign autographs, take photos, deliver gifts from Nike and toys from Karstad, and to exchange words of encouragement met some of the facility's youngest patients. The faces of the players, the children and their parents were full of smiles thanks to a unique opportunity for all involved.
"In a place that you only come to for bad things, it is great to bring some happiness even for a few minutes," said Gianluca Basile of Regal FC Barcelona. "Seeing how the kids smile when you gave them a signed ball is very touching. It is fantastic. This is important for their families, too, because most of the times kids don't know what they are facing. Seeing their families happy because their kids are smiling because of us, that's two or three minutes of joy that you give of them. I hope we have the chance to do this many times in the future."
Basile was joined in the gift-giving by teammate Roger Grimau, CSKA Moscow represtenatives Zoran Planinic, Trajan Langdon and Nikos Zisis, Olympiacos stars Josh Childress, Jannero Pargo and Georgios Printezis, and Panathinaikos players Dusan Kecman and Kostas Tsartsaris. Also in attendance were two iconic players in Berlin, homegrown legend Ademola Okulaja and Alba Berlin player Patrick Femerling, a former Euroleague champion.
"It is great to have the chance to come here and spend some time with kids who are in an unfortunate situation," Langdon said. "It makes you feel how lucky we are as professional athletes, but also as healthy human beings. It is always good to come and spend some time with kids who appreciate it. The initiative is great. It is an opportunity to come here and spend time with the kids, their families and parents. It is great that the Euroleague put this in place, especially at an important time like the Final Four."
"Being with the kids is very important for us not only at the Final Four, but all year round," Printezis said. "This is great opportunity for us, the players, to be with them. Everybody needs to know that basketball is not only played on the court. We are here to help with anything we can, to give our efforts to people who need it, and of course being here to give presents to the kids was great for all of us."
The visit to the Virchow Hospital is just the latest in a series of ongoing Euroleague for Life projects, in which Euroleague teams, players and partners give back to the communities that truly need it most. Among the recent bigger projects were teaming with Unicef for the "Unite for Children, Unite against Aids" campaign and joining Nelson Mandela’s "46664" campaign.
"It is a great move for the Euroleague to visit this hospital and give us the chance to spend some time with the kids," Kecman said. "This kind of support is very important for us and also for the institution that is taking care of the children. I hope that we can do much, much more from now on. It was a great experience for me to come here and see the kids."
Thursday, April 30, 2009
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