Virginia Tech basketball teams paint sneakers with kids at Carilion Children’s Hospital
ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - The Virginia Tech women’s and men’s basketball teams joined Carilion Children’s Hospital to paint shoes Friday with a splash of hope.
“Awesome,” said Chase O’Brien.
It was an awesome day for him, after a challenging three years for Chase and his family. He was diagnosed with cancer at 5 years old.
“Because no parent should ever have to escort their child to surgery. You know, to watch them be put to sleep, to have to go through MRIs every three months. To have their ports accessed and to know that they’re getting chemo,” said Jessica and Eric O’Brien. “It’s just absolutely heartbreaking.”
But they received extra support from the Virginia Tech basketball teams. The players joined kids like Chase in painting a blank canvas and turning it into a masterpiece.
“I can’t go home and see my family, but getting to spend some time with them and hopefully bring a little bit of happiness to them,” said Charlise Dunn, a VT women’s player from Australia.
For the athletes, the event was more than just painting a sneaker. It was a way to give back.
“But we do work hard and do all of that. But that’s just a small part of who we are,” said VT men’s basketball player Justyn Mutts. “So to be able to come back and spend time with the kids it really just shows that we care, that we’re here present.”
UVA student Ben Harold started Shoes for Hope after his high school friend was diagnosed with leukemia.
“Kind of as a way to get her mind off it, I brought a pair of shoes and some paints and we ended up finishing the shoes together,” said Harold.
Hoping to do the same for others, he reached out to hospitals and teams in the Commonwealth.
“And it’s just really special to the kids, and to kind of send those pictures to my friend back home to show her that love that she created,” explained Harold.
Carilion Children’s Hospital wants to bring awareness to pediatric cancer.
”It’s doesn’t have any barriers for race or gender or socioeconomic status. And It’s really underfunded in terms of research,” said Child Life Specialist Carli Holtzhauer. “And so awareness that there is pediatric cancer and that we are treating it here at Carilion is important as we try to make further progress.”
The kicks were full of maroon & orange, but no color was left untouched.
“I’ve seen Coach Young’s shoes,” added Mutts. “My man Chase was in there painting his shoes and I think he has something special for them.”
Painting shoes but also painting smiles.
“So, to see him having fun and enjoying life, means the world to us,” explained Jessica and Eric O’Brien.
The women’s basketball coaches and staff will wear the shoes at the Jan. 12 game against Louisville in Cassell Coliseum. The men’s basketball coaches and staff will wear their sneakers Jan. 28 when the Hokies host Syracuse.
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