Patterson visits children's hospital
HUNTINGTON -- Throughout his time as a star in college and the NBA, Sacramento Kings forward Patrick Patterson has been on several visits to hospitals.
None have touched him like Thursday's visit to Hoops Family Children's Hospital at Cabell Huntington Hospital, though.
For Patterson, this visit was about much more.
"This isn't just because this is my hometown," Patterson said. "I've gone to Ronald McDonald houses and hospitals in Sacramento, but for me to come back here because I was a patient and I've spent time in these rooms -- in surgery, in recovery, walking the halls -- I've been where those patients are at right now. That makes this more of an emotional state for myself."
Prior to his senior year and in the midst of the Highlanders' three-peat as Class AAA state champions, Patterson spent a week in what has now become the Hoops Family Children's Hospital.
It is a time in his life he will never forget.
"When I first got here, I was scared and I was nervous, just because the fact that I was uncertain about everything," Patterson recalled of that time in 2006. "But right when I came here with the doctors and nurses, I started feeling love and a warmth -- just a home feeling like what I have with my parents."
In fact, one of the first people to greet Patterson at the door on Thursday afternoon was registered nurse Candie Armstrong, the clinical coordinator over the pediatric unit at Hoops Family Children's Hospital.
Seven years ago, she took care of Patterson when he was in the hospital undergoing treatment for cellulitis, which occurred from an infection following a surgery on his foot.
Armstrong and Patterson's parents -- Buster and Tywanna -- reminisced about Patterson's stay at the children's hospital, speaking on everything from what room he stayed in and also laughing because they both recalled how two beds had to be put together to accommodate young Patrick, who was 6-foot-7 at the time.
Just as the reunion was good for the Pattersons, it also served as the perfect medicine for the families of the children in the hospital.
Patterson signed many items during the visit, but his presence alone was what meant the most.
One such example was Skyler Miller of Logan -- a 15-year-old boy who had originally come to the hospital after an ATV wreck, only to find out that he had cancer.
Now, Miller, an avid sports fan and football player, is undergoing treatment at the Hoops Family Children's Hospital.
He was all smiles as he stood next to Patterson while his mother Kristi snapped a picture of the two together in his room. He also got a signed basketball from Patterson, who chatted with him about basketball and football during their time together.
Upon learning Patterson had also been there, Skyler Miller said following the visit that he could sense a different vibe from the nationally known athlete.
"You can see him being a nice guy and doing it anyway, but he's been here and you can see there's something about this specific hospital for him," Skyler Miller said. "It's nice to go home and brag about it and say that you met Patrick Patterson, too."
"He already sent the picture home to his brother," Kristi Miller added with a smile.
Patterson's message was one of compassion for the patients, but also to remind those families of their blessings despite the difficulties they are currently going through.
"It's just seeing how God works in mysterious ways," Patterson said. "Like Skyler, a kid who had a regular accident like kids do and finding out it was something more. That's an act of God because he might not have known until it was too late.
"Or seeing a baby born at 24 weeks, it's mind-boggling to see how fragile things are, but at the same time, how God works and it puts you back into a place of thankfulness for what you have.
"For me, I'm thankful that the families allow me to come in and spend time with them and that we get to smile together for a few minutes. It really means a lot, especially knowing I've been there in their shoes."
In turn, Thursday's visit was all about perspective.
Patterson's eye-opening visit came after hosting his basketball camp at Huntington High for nine hours, and he left with a greater appreciation of not only his blessings, but the importance of what those in the health care field do for children in need in the Tri-State.
And those families left with a greater appreciation for Patterson, who showed that when he says he's all about Hoops, it doesn't just mean basketball.
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