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D'backs visit sick children at UMC


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CHRIS CODUTO/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Diamondbacks infielder Matt Kata, center, and Mike Gosling took time out of their spring training schedule to visit UMC and sign autographs for 14-year-old Samantha Sanders and other patients in the children's ward yesterday.
By Djamila Noelle Grossman
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, February 25, 2005
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Local baseball players rushed through the children's wing of the University Medical Center, providing ailing kids with autographs and memorabilia.

Infielder Matt Kata and pitcher Mike Gosling, of the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team, visited about 15 children in the general pediatric wing and the bone marrow transplant unit during their one-hour stay, talking to each child for about five minutes before moving on.

Kata said when he was a kid he always admired people in the position he is in now.

The visit was part of the community affairs division of the Diamondbacks and Kata said he wants to give back what the team receives from the people in the community.

I'm feeling I'm a kid at heart. It's a lot of fun to be around kids, that's what it's all about," Kata said.

Even though many of the children weren't explicitly Diamondback fans, they appreciated the visit.

Samantha Sanders, a freshman at Amphitheater High School, was among the visited children. She said it was really nice of the players to come to the hospital.

"I was excited, they are really cute," Sanders said.

Nick Nelson, a seventh grader in Hohokam Middle School, said he is only a little bit interested in baseball, because he doesn't have enough time for it. However, he said he was happy to see Kata and Gosling.

"It was pretty cool of them to visit me," Nelson said. "It was an awesome surprise."

Amy Buchan, Diamondbacks community affairs senior coordinator, managed the players' visit to the hospital. The team comes to Tucson every year for 1 1/2 months of spring training.

Two different team members have gone to the UMC for the last two or three years, Buchan said.

Gosling said his reason for coming to the hospital was to brighten the children's days.

He said he hopes the children will have something to talk about for the next day and said he hopes to, "make them a little bit more of a baseball fan."

Gosling said the visit to the hospital makes him appreciate his opportunity to play baseball for a living and it reminds to be thankful for everything, Gosling said.

"It's exciting to meet kids and baseball fans who look up to us," Gosling said. "It makes me feel good that those kids have fun meeting us," a child life specialist at UMC, said he organizes a special event for the children almost every day, including dogs, magicians or athletes.



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