HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – When you're sick and in the hospital, lying
cooped up in a bed for hours on end while nurses check your vital
signs throughout the day is never any fun – especially if you're a
kid. But this time, it was different. When the door opened, it
wasn't a nurse or doctor who walked through the door – it was
Marines and Sailors.
Children's eyes lit up as Marines from
2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, Marine
Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Naval Mobile Construction Battalion
14, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Sailors from the USS New York (LPD
21) and Carrier Strike Group 12, visited children from the Joe
DiMaggio Children's Hospital in Hollywood, FL on April 30, 2014 ...
as part of the 24th Anniversary Fleet Week Port Everglades.
Maddison Novo, 11-year-old and native of Pembroke Pines, Fla.,
poses with Marines from 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd
Marine Division, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Naval Mobile
Construction Battalion 14, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Sailors from
the USS New York and Carrier Strike Group 12, during a visit to the
Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, FL on April 30,
2014 ... as part of the 24th Anniversary Fleet Week Port Everglades.
(U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Stephane Belcher)
“I always tell people they have an opportunity; it's
always better to be the one visiting someone in the hospital
than being the one in the hospital because you can make a
difference,” said Master Sgt. Abiub Montes, native of
Jacksonville, Fla., and military advisor from the Naval
Mobile Construction Battalion 14 of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
“It is important to come and make that change because I
don't know how long some of these kids are going to be in
the hospital and to have people visit them, it helps their
day go a little faster, and I think it's important because
it's changing their lives.”
Marines and Sailors
walked throughout the cancer units, pediatric ward, and
intensive care unit, visiting the children in their rooms.
Before entering each room, Montes said the Marines and
Sailors would review the children's information board to
learn a little more about them.
“One girl had on her
board that she loved music, so we came in and sang her
song,” said Montes. “We try to get their minds off the
medical issue they're going through and try to give them an
atmosphere that is positive. We want to make the children
laugh, (so we) say a few jokes, and bring smiles.”
Most of the time people see the military members as only out
there in combat or on a commercial, said Montes. Some of the
children said they have never seen Marines or Sailors, and
the surprise visit allowed the children to meet service
members face-to-face and learn about their missions and
“It's kind of cool for the Sailors and
Marines to come here because I've never seen them, and it
was interesting to know what they really do and how they
serve our country,” said Maddison Novo, 11-year-old patient
of Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital and native of Pembroke
Lance Cpl. Cody D. Souders, native of
Hagerstown, Md., and assaultman with 2nd Bn., 6th Marines,
said he enjoyed sharing his stories with the children as
much as they enjoyed seeing them. He said this was his first
time visiting a children's hospital and it brought back
memories of what he did before joining the Marine Corps.
Souders worked at a daycare for two years, interacting with
children, infant through 12-years-old, and he got the
opportunity to spend time with children during his Marine
“Today was priceless,” said Souders.
“There is no other feeling that can describe it. The visit
felt really good because after all the hard work we do on a
daily basis; it feels good that the children look at us as
superheroes to them, and you need that kind of feeling in
this type of a job.”
During Fleet Week, Marines and
Sailors are volunteering with local community outreach
organizations and experiencing the sights, sounds and
hospitality of South Florida.
By U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Alicia R. Leaders
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