Billy the Marlin Visits Sylvester’s Pediatric Oncology Clinic, alex’s place
September 29 was a special day for patients and staff at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center’s childhood cancer clinic, alex’s place. In honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Billy the Marlin, the official mascot of the Miami Marlins baseball team, visited children receiving cancer treatment or seeing their doctors for follow-up appointments.
The moment Billy walked into the clinic, the children’s faces were all smiles and they immediately started playing bean bag toss and videogames with him, took photos, and showed off their toys.
George Martin, an 11-year-old leukemia patient, was particularly excited about the visit. George is a huge football and baseball fan, and he knew Billy pretty well already because he was an honorary team captain at a Marlins game a few weeks ago and threw the first pitch. George was at alex’s place for chemotherapy to treat a form of blood cancer that was diagnosed in January.
Ryan Payne, who is 3 years old and was diagnosed with leukemia at only 13 months of age, was a little more hesitant to become friends with the large mascot. It took him awhile, with lots of encouragement from his mom, to play a game with Billy and pose for photos. Ryan has been cancer free for two years after a bone marrow transplant in 2013.
“Today’s visit from Billy the Marlin brought a smile to everyone’s face,” said Letitia Cason, M.Ed., CCLS, Certified Child Life Specialist at alex’s place. “Billy made our patients feel like celebrities, too! His funny antics made our patients laugh — even the shyest little patient enjoyed the special attention from Billy.”