Wives and significant others of the Los Angeles Lakers players and coaching staff made a special visit to UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital to help brighten the day for families and patients. The group, known as the Ladies of the Lakers, served food to families as well as patients who were able to leave their rooms. The ladies also brought to-go boxes for families who wanted to eat in the room with their loved one. The food was provided by Petros restaurant.
“We wanted to do something to get the Ladies of the Lakers out into the community and give back,” says Desiree LeSassier, Player Relations Manager for the Lakers.
The Ladies of the Lakers worked with Child Life Specialists to learn and understand what patients and their families experience at hospitals. Families sometimes go weeks or months without having dinners together while their child is at the hospital, often running to vending machines or making quick trips to the cafeteria, says Laura Gronroos, Child Life Specialist at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital. She stresses the importance to families of socializing and eating healthy, and the opportunity to do both is what made the visit from the Ladies of the Lakers so meaningful.
“When I was talking to the wives here that came to bring the dinner, it almost brought tears to my eyes because sometimes the families are forgotten,” Gronroos says.
Gary McKay, whose 8-month-old son was in the hospital for spinal surgery, appreciated the ladies’ efforts to take his mind off a potentially stressful situation and provide a positive reprieve in his day.
“It’s really great that the Lakers have this kind of an event because all of the families here are in a situation where their kids are in the hospital here and some of them are feeling sad,” McKay says. “And this is the kind of thing that kind of lifts your spirits.”
UCLA Health and the Lakers share a commitment to building a healthier and more engaged community, celebrating sports and competition and providing the support needed for an active lifestyle.