About half of the Higley High School Knights wrestling team delivered donated baby dolls, miniature cars, stuffed animals and diapers Wednesday to the Gilbert area’s only pediatric unit at Mercy Gilbert Medical Center.
The 16 students, several parents and the team’s coaches toured the hospital’s colorful Lund Family Pediatric and Adolescent Unit, walking past the multicolored walls and patterned carpet to place 60 donated, unwrapped presents under the unit’s Christmas tree.
The gifts will be given to young patients who enter the hospital’s emergency room on Friday or to those who are staying through the Christmas holiday. On Wednesday, there were two patients in the 22-private-bed unit, but more young patients were expected over the holiday.
Higley High sophomore Zack Yazzie, a varsity wrestler, donated a Transformers action figure and a Littlest Pet Shop toy. He said the tour and the community service project was “cool.”
“This helps us wrestle for a cause,” said Yazzie, who is also on the school’s football team. “It helps us to be more aware of others who have problems and shows us we can help them out.”
Wrestling team coaches Bryan Idleman and Louis Carmona organized the team’s first community activity because they thought it would be nice to do for Christmas.
“We wanted to give gifts to children who might not be home for Christmas,” Idleman said.
Twenty stuffed bears wrapped in pink, clear bags and a couple of the baby dolls were donated by the Olmstead family, which has two wrestlers on the team and two who graduated from Higley High. Co-workers of Carmona’s law firm also donated items.
“This is fun,” said mom Holly Olmstead. “We’ve never had the opportunity to do a service like this before. This brings a human side to wrestling.”
Laura Morris, one of two registered nurses who lead the tour, thanked the group and talked about how the presents will “definitely make a difference.”
Other needed items for the pediatric unit include new sippy cups, soft toys, hand-held games, card games and small basketball hoops — anything to keep the children busy and keep their minds off their hospital stay, Morris said.
“January to April is our busy time,” Morris said. “We’re (also) expecting a resurgence in the H1N1 flu cases in January.”
The Lund Family Pediatric and Adolescent Unit, named after the Lund family, which donated $2.5 million for Mercy Gilbert’s Tower B expansion, opened in February 2008. Mercy Gilbert Medical Center opened June 5, 2006, off the Loop 202 Santan Freeway and Val Vista Drive.