Red Sox rookies bring smiles to patients at the Jimmy Fund Clinic

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Nine-year-old Ethyn Yates has traveled twice to Dana-Farber from his native Australia in the past three years, and both times the Boston Red Sox have made the nearly 11,000-mile trip less scary.

Yates, who had a stem cell transplant at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center in late 2013 for the genetic disorder adrenoleukodystrophy, was at the Jimmy Fund Clinic Jan. 15 for a one-year checkup. What he and his dad Jason didn’t know is that nearly a dozen young Red Sox players would be visiting the clinic that afternoon as part of the team’s annual Rookie Development Program.

One day after the Yates family came to Dana-Farber/Children’s for Ethyn’s transplant in October 2013, the Red Sox clinched the World Series championship at nearby Fenway Park – setting off a loud, city-wide party that his parents told Ethyn was just for him. During his most recent visit Yates had the chance to pose for pictures and chat with up-and-coming second baseman Sean Coyle.

“What a day; we had a great checkup, and now this,” said Jason Yates as his son and Coyle posed for photos. “Cricket and soccer are our main sports at home, but Ethyn has started playing baseball, which makes this a lot more special.”

The Rookie Development Program is designed to introduce new and young Red Sox players (including minor leaguers) to different experiences they’ll encounter with the organization. One of these is the team’s unique relationship with Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund, which dates back to the 1950s when Sox legend Ted Williams and his teammates made the short trip from Fenway to DFCI.

“Kids and their parents sometimes have to be here all day, so we try to make it as fun for them as possible,” Jimmy Fund Clinic Adolescent Specialist Jen Noonan told the players at the end of their Jan. 15 visit. “Having you come in here truly makes a world of difference to these patients.”

Noonan told the players to “look for us at spring training,” when a contingent of teenage clinic patients and chaperones will head down to Florida to see the Red Sox play a pre-season game. Danny Marchibrouda, age 6, isn’t old enough to go on this annual trip, but he was the center of attention on Jan. 15 – drawing applause from players as he lined up and knocked down his action figures.

“Just look at him smile,” said Amy Marchibrouda, Danny’s mom. “This is a nice surprise, and another example of what a wonderful job they do for the kids here.”

The visits are special to both patients and the players.

“If we can take an hour out of our day to make somebody else’s day better, that’s what it is all about,” said Coyle. “It’s great to learn about the history of players coming here, and to be a part of it.”

Saul Wisnia
Senior Publications Editor-Writer, Communications