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Bears pop in to cheer young patients in Evanston

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To have appendicitis is one thing, but knowing that at any time before the morning ends you might be called in for a procedure, well, anticipation is quite the wait.

Ben Streett, 12, of Wilmette, was in for an unexpected treat and surprise Monday while waiting with his mother for the necessary treatment.

He had the pleasure of meeting Chicago Bears defensive end Shea McClellin at NorthShore Evanston Hospital’s Pediatric Unit November 19 at 2650 Ridge Avenue.

“Did you watch the game last Sunday?” McClellin asked as he walked in to Ben’s room. “It was a muddy one.”

Ben received a gift: A 2013 Chicago Bears Yearbook signed by McClellin. Ben turned the glossy pages, appreciative of the gesture, while his mother Carolyn Streett was grateful for the morning distraction.

“Well, everybody is going to be jealous of him,” said Ben’s mother, of the kids at her son’s school.

Ben spoke softly from his bed.

“Thank you,” he whispered to McClellin, who earnestly shook his mother’s hand before leaving to visit other patients on the floor.

“Oh, I think it’s terrific,” said Ben’s mother, of the Bears outreach to hospital patients. “It really raises their spirits, really raises the spirit of a 12-year-old, and we appreciate it.”

Chicago Bears linebacker Jon Bostic joined a few minutes later. Both men quietly traversed the floor, being gently reminded to use hand disinfectant, or to put on droplet masks before entering some patients’ rooms.

The two players spent about an hour greeting patients, from 16 years old to as young as 21 months.

“It’s very exciting for the kids,” said Kia Beickert, Child Life coordinator at the Department of Pediatrics. “I think anybody that visits that’s from a sports team or from their own city is so exciting for the kids. It just brightens their day.

“It is such a stressful time to sometimes, be in the hospital, and I think that anytime there’s somebody that visits them, it’s like bringing the outside in, and it just makes their day a little bit better.”

As the official health care sponsor of the Chicago Bears, NorthShore has made a long-term commitment to partner with the team on a number of community-based initiatives and interactions.

The outreach during the week before Thanksgiving offered a special message.

“I think it’s a win-win for sure,” said Beickert, of the partnership. “Our little guys will look up to the Bears and I think, ‘Oh, they’re such giants! They’re my huge heroes!’ but we’ve got little giants on our unit as well.”

Wyatt Mayer, 16, of Wilmette, smiled ear-to-ear when saw Chicago Bears orange and blue.

Given a choice of a favorite color of either orange or blue, Abigail Taylor, 14, of Skokie picked Bears blue.

Charlie McCarthy, 2, of Lincolnshire stayed close to his mother Karrie.

Cole Driscoll, 7, a Wilmette first-grader, showed McClellin and Bostic a card trick. Bostic was asked to pick a magic word (Abracadabra) and waved a magic wand to the delight of Cole and his family.

Before they left the wing, Bostic and McClellin posed for photographs with staff who were thrilled with their autographs.

“It feels great to see the smiles on the kids, “ McClellin said. “It’s awesome.”

“It’s always great to be able to try to make a kid’s day,” said Bostic.

For more information, visit www.northshore.org.

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