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Islanders Bring Toys and Holiday Cheer to Young Hospital Patients

The New York Islanders teamed up with EmblemHealth to bring toys and holiday cheer to dozens of young hospital patients in Queens and Long Island. The event was the culmination of last week’s holiday shopping spree when players and their families personally selected gifts at Toys“R”Us. Both events were sponsored by EmblemHealth, which provides health insurance through its companies Group Health Incorporated (GHI) and HIP Health Plan of New York.

The entire team fanned out across Long Island and Queens to distribute toys, pose for photos and give autographs to young patients at seven area hospitals and a Long Island school for children with disabilities.

“It’s hard to describe how truly special it is to visit these kids and put smiles on their faces,” Islanders Captain Doug Weight said. “They’re in such a tough spot, especially given the time of year, so whatever we can do to help, we will. You can tell how much it means to them and their families and it sure means a lot to all of us as well.”

“We are delighted to help bring toys and holiday cheer to children who face medical challenges during the holidays by partnering with the New York Islanders,” said EmblemHealth President and COO Frank Branchini, who added that the program is part of the company’s ongoing efforts to give back to the communities it serves. “These players are mentors, role models and an inspiration to these kids, bringing encouragement to dream big.”

Team members include Captain Weight; goaltenders Rick DiPietro and Dwayne Roloson; forwards Blake Comeau, Trevor Gillies, Michael Grabner, Trent Hunter, Jesse Joensuu, Zenon Konopka, Matt Martin, Matt Moulson, Frans Nielsen, Kyle Okposo, PA Parenteau, Rob Schremp, Jon Sim, and John Tavares, and defensemen Mark Eaton, Bruno Gervais, Jack Hillen, Milan Jurcina, Radek Martinek, Andrew MacDonald, and James Wisniewski.

Denise Shearer, special events manager for EmblemHealth, was also on hand.

Players visited the following facilities: Stephen and Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, Stony Brook University Hospital in Stony Brook, Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip, St. Mary’s Children’s Hospital in Bayside, North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, and the Henry Viscardi School, serving children with severe physical and medical disabilities, in Albertson.