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Published: Wednesday, 6/12/2002

Sub crew, kin build bridges to ailing kids

BY MOLLY WORTHEN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Alyssa Reed, 12, at Toledo Children's Hospital, receives a hat and Mud Hens tickets from the sailors of the USS Toledo. Alyssa Reed, 12, at Toledo Children's Hospital, receives a hat and Mud Hens tickets from the sailors of the USS Toledo.
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The patients at Toledo Children's Hospital may wish they didn't have to stay inside on a warm summer afternoon, but at least now they have a group with whom to empathize - the sailors aboard the nuclear submarine USS Toledo.

As a result of a new partnership between the USS Toledo Family Support Group in Groton, Conn., and Toledo Children's Hospital, every child in the hospital yesterday received a baseball cap with the submarine's insignia and get-well cards made by the crew's children.

Although the hat nearly swallowed his head, Anthony Williams, 5, was excited to wear it.

“Will they mind if I wear it like this?” he asked his mother, turning the cap backward and pulling it down over his eyes. “I hope it can still fit me when I'm big,” he said.

Each cap was tagged with a sailor's name and address, and the children were eager - at least in the presence of their parents - to write thank-you letters to their new pen pals. Along with the baseball caps and cards, the group also sent a framed photograph of the submarine to hang in the ward.

One patient, 12-year-old Alyssa Reed, received a bonus from the sailors' families - tickets to a Mud Hens game for her whole family.

“She's looking forward to seeing the new stadium,” said Kathy Reed, Alyssa's mother.

The USS Toledo families plan a book drive for the hospital library and for McKinley School.

The partnership began last month when the wife of one of the sailors contacted the hospital with the idea, said Jean Gillen, who acted as a liaison between the hospital and the USS Toledo families.

The cards and hats boosted spirits in the children's ward, and the hospital would like to return the favor for those aboard the submarine.

“The hope is that some of the kids will correspond with the sailors,” said Colleen Grubb, a spokeswoman for ProMedica, which runs the hospital.

In addition, the hospital has sent toys and coloring books to the sailors' children and will send a U.S. flag banner signed by the staff. Some of the patients may do more than send letters. Under the brim of his new hat, Anthony hinted that he himself might like to live on a submarine some day.

“Who's their driver?” he asked. “I like octopuses.”



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