Written By Josh Cohen, OrlandoMagic.com
D.J. Augustin and Khem Birch have shown in recent weeks that they have excellent chemistry. An example of their on-the-court rapport came last week against the Celtics when the two executed a play that resulted in an Augustin assist and a thunderous slam from Birch.
But their greatest display of teamwork so far may have occurred on Monday when they helped boost the spirits of dozens of young patients at Florida Hospital for Children.
Along with Magic Community Ambassadors Nick Anderson and Bo Outlaw, STUFF the Magic Mascot, the Blue Crew and Magic Dancers, Augustin and Birch visited the children at the hospital. There, they played games with the kids and handed out “get-well” teddy bears signed by Magic players and coaches.
“It means a lot,” Augustin said. “These kids look up to us, they watch us on TV and just to be able to come here and play some games with them for a little while, it means a lot to them, it means a lot to me.”
Confident their afternoon stay will help expedite the healing process for each child, Augustin and Birch were delighted to see them all smiling and having fun.
“It will go a long way just us being here, it will make them feel good,” Augustin said. “These kids they go through a lot at such a young age and just to give them a break from being in a hospital bed, just to let them play a game or two and have fun and smile, it’s just an amazing feeling.”
Birch was incredibly moved by the experience and impressed by each child’s strength and determination. He recalls pro athletes having a direct impact on him when he was growing up.
“I think they are going to remember this for the rest of their lives,” he said. “I remember professional athletes from the Canadian Football League coming to see me when I was a little kid. I think it’s a great experience and I think they are going to remember this.”
The Walt Disney Pavilion at Florida Hospital for Children is one of the premier children’s hospitals in the nation, setting standards for innovation, quality and comprehensive care.
The facility’s child-centric healing environment was designed to keep kids comfortable and is staffed by world-class doctors, specialists, nurses and healthcare professionals utilizing advanced technologies, therapies and treatments.
The Magic and Florida Hospital are both fully committed to the community and it’s a joy for players, like Augustin and Birch, to contribute knowing how many children are being assisted.
“The Magic organization does a great job getting us out here in the community,” Augustin said. “To be able to do it with my teammates, especially a young guy like Khem, it means a lot.”