Every December, hockey players for the New York Islanders visit hospitals throughout the tri-state area to spread cheer and give gifts to children who are spending the holiday season away from home.
Casey Cizikas, Leo Komarov and Brock Nelson walked through the halls of Nassau University Medical Center on Dec. 13 with several bins of toys picked out by their wives. Room after room, they greeted children and let them choose a toy before giving them Islanders merchandise and taking a photo with them.
This year was a little different for Cizikas, who had his first child, Jack, in March with his wife Kristy. Walking into the event with the perspective of a father, he said, made it that much more touching.
“To have this opportunity to brighten these kids days, just for a few minutes, means a lot to me,” said Casey Cizikas. “Something like this goes a long way for a child.”
When delivering presents to a five-month old child named Ezra Michel, Cizikas asked his mother Tia Thomas if she took him to meet Santa Claus. She nodded and the two laughed when they both described the look of bemusement on their children’s faces when seeing Santa for the first time. On leaving, Thomas said to the team, “Welcome back to Long Island.”