One week after Sporting Kansas City midfielder Ilie Sanchez conducted a virtual visit to the main Children's Mercy campus in Kansas City, Missouri, to interact with patients at the facility, MLS All-Star defender Graham Zusi followed suit.
Zusi called in on Tuesday to chat with kids about his favorite quarantine foods, his favorite athlete—Michael Jordan, of course—and what he is currently growing in his garden. Best of all? His dog, Baci, joined in to show off some tricks.
For the last several years, Sporting players have made regular visits to Children's Mercy Hospital to interact with kids and participate in a variety of activities, ranging from board games and arts and crafts to surprise birthday parties.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Sporting players have been unable to visit Children's Mercy Hospital in person. But the coronavirus hasn't stopped them from interacting with patients at the facility and brightening their days.
Ilie and Zusi's hospital visits came shortly after Sporting launched Sporting Community Kitchen, partnering with City Foods & Events and Operation BBQ Relief to provide 1,000 free hot meals every weekday to citizens across Greater Kansas City affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sporting Community Kitchen is part of a newly established philanthropic platform called Sporting Serves, which will see Sporting Kansas City and The Victory Project—the club’s flagship charitable arm—join several community partners to provide relief to citizens across the metropolitan area in a unified response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In recent weeks, Sporting and The Victory Project have donated 1,200 non-latex gloves to Children’s Mercy Hospital and 200 soccer balls to Ott Elementary School in Independence, Missouri, while continuing to support children and families affected by pediatric cancer through the Sporting Wishes program and a family assistance fund to aid with medical bills and household needs. More information about Sporting Serves will be announced in the near term.