NEW HYDE PARK, NY – Thanks to the combined efforts of the Billie and George Ross Foundation and National Hockey League Hall of Famer Pat LaFontaine’s Companions in Courage Foundation, patients at Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York now have access to an interactive game room.
The new Lion’s Den Playroom was dedicated at an April 12 ceremony by Mr. LaFontaine, former Islanders Bobby Nystrom and other members of the Islanders Alumni group, Cohen Children’s Executive Director Kevin McGeachy, the Rosses and other supporters of the project. Mr. Ross, executive vice president of the Trump Organization who is best known as one of Donald Trump’s two advisors on the NBC-TV reality show, “The Apprentice,” stepped forward to assist in the latter stages of the project when he learned about a funding gap that delayed the playroom’s completion.
The playroom utilizes innovative communication tools, including Cisco WebEx, Microsoft Xbox 360, flat-panel televisions and video conference pods that allow children to connect to family and friends during a hospital stay. The room also connects Cohen patients to 16 other Lion’s Den rooms located in children’s hospitals throughout North America.
Standing alongside the Rosses, Mr. LaFontaine, a Long Island resident, spoke of the many years of planning that went into the opening of this creative play area. “You never give up,” he said. “As an athlete, I came to understand how important it is to give back to the community. At the end of the day, it’s all about putting smiles on children’s faces.”
Mr. McGeachy added, “This is a very special place. We treat the whole patient, and we know that playtime is critically important to the healing process. This playroom will allow our patients to take a break from their illness and do what’s most important—play like other children.” He noted that the new playroom was especially meaningful as the hospital is celebrating its 30th year of service to the community.
The Companions in Courage Foundation was originally founded by Mr. LaFontaine in 1997. As he watched a few very enthralled patients trying out the new games, he concluded, “The CIC mission is simple, “No child in the fight for life or health should ever have to go through it alone.”