Olympic Moment at Children's Hospital

Former Olympians Visit Patients at American Family Children's HospitalMADISON-Patients at American Family Children's Hospital were able to have their own Olympic experience recently when Wisconsin's former Olympians Suzy Favor Hamilton and Casey FitzRandolph visited for an afternoon.

"The Children's Hospital is a place I love to visit," said FitzRandolph, a gold-medal speed skater from the 2002 Winter Games. "Every time I leave I'm in a better mood than when I arrived. The kids here, quite frankly, do more for me than I probably do for them."

FitzRandolph and Favor Hamilton spent time with patients on the fourth and fifth floors of American Family Children's, making medals and talking about their Olympic experiences. As a special treat, FitzRandolph even brought his gold medal, which weighs two and a half pounds.

Angie Damon of Brooklyn, Wis. watched as her son Tyler tried on the medal. "His sister is in her fourth surgery and it's hard on him," Damon commented. "We were in Tyler's Place earlier, and now here in the playroom. It is so nice to be able to have the diversion and help keep his mind off of things."

Favor Hamilton, a three-time Olympian and the winningest female collegiate athlete ever at UW-Madison, demonstrated her artistic skills by designing medals for the children. She even presented them to the kids as though they were on the medal podium, complete with the national anthem hummed by everyone in the playroom.

"I see the kids here and I'm truly inspired when I come to the hospital," she later commented. "They are so tough and so strong."

FitzRandolph and Favor Hamilton were in awe of the strength and spirit of the patients with whom they visited.

"We can learn so much from the children who are going through tough times," Favor Hamilton said. "They can teach us about what is important in life. They're giving us that gift."

FitzRandolph echoed the sentiment, "Their outlooks are phenomenal. They're thinking about how things are going to get better. And as a result they often do."

Both Olympians have committed their time and energies to helping a variety of causes. For Favor Hamilton, the reason is deeply personal.

"I lost my best friend to cancer three years ago,""she shared. “I wanted to do everything I could to stop this terrible disease, even if it's just encouraging somebody. If I can give some hope or make someone smile, then I know I'm doing my part."

The Olympics celebration at American Family Children's Hospital began with the opening ceremonies on August 8. Families enjoyed a meal of Chinese food provided by Imperial Gardens while watching the event on the movie theater screen. Throughout the week, kids are keeping track of the medals won by the American team.
Pictured above: Casey FitzRandolph and Tyler Damon

Date Published: 08/14/2008

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