Dwayne De Rosario.

A Good Distraction

TORONTO — In a place where smiles are often few and far between, today was a good day.

MLS W.O.R.K.S. teamed up with Starlight Children’s Foundation to unveil a new Starlight Fun Center mobile entertainment unit today at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in downtown Toronto.

Past MLS Cup winners Dwayne De Rosario and Jon Conway of Toronto FC visited the hospital, bringing the MLS Cup trophy for the ultimate show and tell session. Former MLS player Geoff Aunger—the first Canadian to win MLS Cup (1999)—also was on hand to play Fun Center games with the children.

SickKids patients were able to get autographs and take pictures with the Philip F. Anschutz championship trophy.

“I’m happy I can be a part of today’s event. It’s so rewarding to help put a smile on a child’s face and give back to the community that is so supportive of MLS and TFC,” De Rosario said. “You should see the way these children light up when they see the trophy. It is incredible. The look in their eyes—it’s something you don’t forget.”

The hospital visit was part of the MLS Cup trophy arrival celebration that kicked off the 2010 MLS Cup festivities in Toronto.

“It was amazing to see the children smiling today,” said Aunger, who played 44 games for the Canadian national team from 1992-1997. “It is so much fun to hang out with these boys and girls. They were so excited to see the MLS Cup trophy.”

For children who may be facing surgery, enduring long outpatient treatments or fighting loneliness after hospital visiting hours have ended, Starlight Fun Centers provide a comforting break. Each Starlight Fun Center features a LCD TV, DVD player and gaming system to provide hours of fun and distraction.

In addition to the Fun Center, MLS W.O.R.K.S. provided tickets to MLS Cup 2010 for outpatients and their families on behalf of Toronto FC and the two competing clubs in the championship game, the Colorado Rapids and FC Dallas.

The hospital visit falls under the MLS W.O.R.K.S. Community Service Program, which is a collaborative effort to combine sport and service, promote good will and improve lives and communities at the grassroots level.

For more than 25 years, Starlight Children’s Foundation has been dedicated to helping seriously ill children and their families cope with their pain, fear and isolation through entertainment, education and family activities. Starlight’s programs have been proven to distract children from their pain, help them better understand and manage their illnesses, and connect families facing similar challenges so that no one feels alone. Through a network of chapters and offices, Starlight provides ongoing support to children, parents and siblings in all U.S. states and Canadian provinces with an array of outpatient, hospital-based and Web offerings. Programs are also delivered internationally through affiliates in Australia, Japan and the United Kingdom.