Most people see days off as a chance to unwind, catch up on chores, and get in some much-needed “me time.”
MLB player Yasiel Puig certainly could have used that time to catch his breath when he got his first free day in three weeks. But the Cleveland Indians’ right fielder had something better in mind: bringing joy to sick and dying children.
It all started when Puig’s good friend, Irv Bauman, asked for a favor. Irv’s grandson helps out at Camp Simcha, an overnight summer camp where the majority of attendees are children and teens who have cancer and other terminal diseases.
Irv hoped Puig would visit the kids to brighten their day. Puig loved the idea, so in August he hopped on a helicopter bound for Glen Spey, New York.
Puig expected a somber atmosphere when he entered the camp, his face hidden by a mascot-like tiger head. But when he removed his disguise, he was greeted by dozens of ecstatic fans!
While in town to play the Mets, @YasielPuig
spent today at @CampSimcha with children who are battling cancer. His enthusiasm toward bringing sheer joy to these children should be an example for athletes/celebrities everywhere.
The smiles say it all. 💛
— Yoni (@OriginalYoni) August 19, 2019
For four hours, Puig talked with the kids, signed baseball caps, played catch, danced, and even crowd-surfed!
But most importantly, he made sure every child he met felt special and seen.
Unfortunately, not every camper was well enough to participate in the group activities, so Puig paid a special visit to the infirmary to spend time with a sick little boy.
A person who was at the camp that day tweeted photos and videos of the visit, writing
, “Yasiel visited a child in the infirmary, and he would not leave until they found Waldo. He spent ten minutes with him looking.”
When the day ended, Puig was overwhelmed by the positive response. “I received messages from a mother that said, ‘Mr. Bauman, I have to thank you. I have not seen my son smile like that since he was born,'” he said
. “I was almost crying, I got so emotional myself.”
While he undoubtedly left a mark on those children’s hearts, he insists they did the same for him. They inspired him, and he wants to go back as soon as possible. Describing what he called the best day of his life, Puig said:
I never expected it to be this way. I said, ‘Oh, I’m going to visit sick kids. It’s gonna be more slowed down, sitting in the room, explaining about life, keep going, fight.’ I only said like two or three words because these kids never stopped. They were excited.”
Check out a sweet compilation from the best parts of his visit below, and share to spread the joy.
Today was one of the best days of my life. I want to thank so many people, starting with all of my new friends at @campsimcha
. Thank you for welcoming me and giving me your smiles today. You are my inspiration and when I do good things on the field I will do it for you. pic.twitter.com/uSSrYX2ibW
— Yasiel Puig (@YasielPuig) August 20, 2019