An unexpected friendship

Patients at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital (WCH) were over the moon to meet some of their sporting heroes when team members from the Adelaide 36ers came to visit.

Thanks to Adelaide 36ers sponsors and WCH Foundation corporate partners, Fasta Pasta and Pasta Deli, teammates Sunday Dech, Keanu Pinder and Alex Mudronja, along with Head Coach Conner Henry, popped in to lift the spirits of their young fans on ward.

Left to right: Alex Mudronja, Sunday Dech, and Head Coach Conner Henry at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

Massimo’s injury

The Sunday before the 36er’s visit, an AFL injury left 14-year-old Massimo with a black and swollen eye that continued to worsen throughout the afternoon. The young sports fanatic was taken to the WCH via ambulance and admitted to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).

In the days following it was discovered that Massimo had a skull fracture at the roof of his eye socket which caused a lesion and internal bleeding, putting pressure on his brain. By Tuesday night, Massimo was taken in for neurosurgery.

Massimo’s mum, Antonietta, teared up while recalling the stressful event.

“His doctor came out and said it all went well though and was really happy with him. He woke up and was fine.”

The brave teen didn’t seem as phased as his mum though.

“I was probably more worried about not being able to play sport,” Massimo said.

His doctor’s recommendation to not participate in any sport for a whole 12 months post-surgery was the toughest pill to swallow for the teenager whose life revolves around game days.

Massimo in the Women's and Children's Hospital.

Massimo in the Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

Adelaide 36ers Hospital visit

The Friday after Massimo’s injury he and a group of other patients recovering in Kate Hill Ward were paid a visit by the 36ers teammates.

The visit was made possible by the WCH Foundation’s corporate partners, Fasta Pasta and Pasta Deli, who wanted to give families at the WCH a bit of excitement and distraction by getting the team they sponsor onto the wards to meet their littlest fans.

Massimo’s mum, Antonietta, said, “Massimo just sort of sat back in the corner to let the younger kids have their turn, but then Coach Conner went straight to him.”

The pair chatted away like best friends, bonding over their favourite basketball players. Coach told Massimo he had a “good basketball mind” which Massimo loved.

“They built a connection,” Antonietta said.

Massimo said Coach Conner then made an extra effort to cheer him up.

“At the end, he gave me his autograph and he said, ‘Also, give me a piece of paper to write down my number, then message me and come to a game when you get out of hospital.”

Coach Conner with Massimo post-operation in Kate Hill Ward.

Coach Conner with Massimo post-operation in Kate Hill Ward.

More than just a visit

After some text messages between Coach and Antonietta and an all-clear from his doctor, Massimo and his family attended a 36ers home game as VIP guests. He got to meet more of the team courtside and was treated to a tour of the change rooms, a signed jersey and a special mention at halftime.

At the end of it all, Coach Conner told Massimo, “I still want to see you again. Next year, because this season is coming to an end, message me at the start of the season and come out to a training.”

Being able to still connect with sports like this during a time when playing sports isn’t an option for Massimo meant so much to him and his family.

“We did not expect to have met the team at all and then to go that further step, it was really lovely of them to do that extra,” Antonietta said.

“A lot of sports players are just like, ‘We have to make an appearance to look good,’ but this visit made an actual impact.

“The extra step that they took and just that extra care and the connection they made with Massimo, it was so much more.

“The kids all loved it.”

Massimo at the 36ers game with Coach Conner

Massimo at the 36ers game with Coach Conner

Corporate partnerships

The WCH Foundation is extremely grateful to have corporate partners like Fasta Pasta and Pasta Deli to make events like this happen.

Our corporate partners are a valued part of our organisation and they make an incredible impact in brightening lives and supporting brilliant care for families cared for by the Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

Fasta Pasta and Pasta Deli CEO, Frank Taddeo, said, “There are so many children doing it tough in hospital and we’re really happy we could help brighten their day and distract them from the challenges they are facing. It’s so rewarding to see the smiles on their faces and know our donation to the WCH Foundation will help support their care.”

“We are thrilled to be able to bring our partnerships with the WCH Foundation and the Adelaide 36ers together to make a difference to these children and their families.”

Massimo now, well on his way to a full recovery.

Massimo now, well on his way to a full recovery.

For more information about our corporate partnerships, click here.

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