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Yanks, MLB bring 'Fun' to ill children

Yanks, MLB bring 'Fun' to ill children

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NEW YORK -- From the right-field seats inside the new Yankee Stadium, fans have a clear view of Bronx-Lebanon Hospital, where the largest voluntary, not-for-profit health-care system serves hundreds of patients battling life-threatening ailments and long-term illness.

"We have a World Series here every day," said hospital spokesperson Errol Schneer. "Our staff is constantly faced with challenges."

But thanks to the continued partnership of Starlight Children's Foundation and Major League Baseball, the daily rigors of hospitalization and treatment promises to be a little more fun for the hospital's fourth-floor patients. MLB and the American League champion Yankees teamed up with Starlight Children's Foundation to donate a "Fun Center" to the newly renovated children's floor at Bronx-Lebanon on Thursday afternoon.

The "Fun Center" is a mobile entertainment unit featuring a Nintendo Wii, Sharp AQUOS LCD TV and DVD player, and is specially designed to accommodate bedridden patients.

The four-foot-tall center was unveiled with the help of Vera Clemente, the widow of baseball Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente, who died in a plane crash on Dec. 31, 1972, while en route to deliver aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.

"Roberto used to say, 'If you aren't doing anything for your community, you're wasting your time,'" Vera said.

2009 World Series
Gm. 1 PHI 6, NYY 1 Wrap Video
Gm. 2 NYY 3, PHI 1 Wrap Video
Gm. 3 NYY 8, PHI 5 Wrap Video
Gm. 4 NYY 7, PHI 4 Wrap Video
Gm. 5 PHI 8, NYY 6 Wrap Video
Gm. 6 NYY 7, PHI 3 Wrap Video

In that case, the late Clemente would have been proud to watch Thursday's scene unfold. As soon as the cover came off to unveil the "Fun Center," several patients eagerly started up a game of Wii baseball. The first match took place between two boys, Dimitre and Divonte, who clutched their controller in one hand and a blue Yankees stuffed bear in the other.

"We bring laughter and smile to kids," Starlight's executive director Elaine Siver said. "And that's really what our goal is, to provide spiritual healing."

While MLB has donated a "Fun Center" in every World Series city, this year's Fall Classic is unmatched in its commitment to community service.

World Series Game 1 celebrated Welcome Back Veterans, while Thursday's event at Bronx-Lebanon was in conjunction with Game 2's theme of community service. Saturday's Game 3 will focus on Stand Up To Cancer and Sunday's spotlight will be on Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI), presented by KPMG and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Brittany Ghiroli is a contributor to MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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