Cubs Player Serious About Smiles
Chicago Cubs catcher Koyie Hill has had a lot of great things happen in his life, including living his dream as a major league baseball player. Grateful for everything he is able to enjoy, he made a decision long ago to be involved in helping others.
In looking for a charity to support, Koyie was deliberate in choosing one that helps local kids. With a brother who grew up with muscular dystrophy, he felt an instant connection to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the mission of granting wishes for children with life-threatening medical conditions. That feeling was further reinforced after he suffered a potentially career-ending injury when several fingers were severed during a home improvement accident.
Hill gives much credit to the support he received from others for his successful recovery, allowing him to continue his professional baseball career. He has a personal goal to do the same for children who find themselves in a similar position.
"These children have daily challenges," Hill said when asked why he supports Make-A-Wish. "When you look at what they have to do to get out of bed, you appreciate what you have. Things we take for granted, like playing catch, are a big dream to these kids."
Hill has met several wish children and their families throughout his career, as well as through a fundraiser he hosted for the Make-A-Wish Foundation in 2009. Recently, he cast his vote for the Make-A-Wish Foundation when Cubs players were asked to help select charity beneficiaries of the Cubs inaugural Bricks & Ivy Ball in April.
A short time ago, he personally granted the wish of 11- year-old Shelby, who flew from her home in Kansas to Chicago to meet with Hill. A bit shy at first, Shelby warmed up to Hill, who patiently drew out her shining personality. To play catch, he suited her up with his own helmet and chest protector. That very moment, Shelby's family said they could see her transformation and it was the instant her wish was truly being granted. It was a moment that deeply touched Shelby's family and Hill alike.
Like many who get involved to help brighten children's lives, Hill found he too was changed by the wish experience.
"I like Make-A-Wish because it has a direct impact on each wish child. By participating you get to meet the actual recipients and make a connection. You know that you had a hand in making these kids smile."
As long as he is able, he plans to continue his philanthropic work.
"As adults, we have a choice to attack an opportunity," Hill said. "I want to help make opportunities for these kids that many of us might take for granted."
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