There’s no arguing with this retired Major League Baseball umpire’s generosity.
Poland resident John Hirschbeck, who recently capped his career by working this year’s World Series, made a special visit to Akron Children’s Mahoning Valley to deliver gifts to three patient families in the hospital’s palliative care program.
The Hirschbecks have a special connection to the program after experiencing the loss of two young sons to a rare neurological disease, including 27-year-old Michael a few years ago. The family’s Magic of Michael Foundation donated $250,000 earlier this year to help to expand the hospital’s palliative care program to the Mahoning Valley.
“Christmas is hard because Michael is not here, but we’re trying to keep his memory alive by helping some families in the Mahoning Valley,” Hirschbeck said. “It means a lot to see the smiles on their faces.”
Hirschbeck was joined at the Beeghly campus by his wife, Denise, their daughters Megan and Erin, as well as foundation board member Dan Memo to present wish list items for the children and grocery store gift cards for their families.
“The Hirschbeck family and the Magic of Michael Foundation wanted to do something extra special for our palliative care patients to help make their holiday season a little brighter,” said JoAnn Stock, senior director of development, Akron Children’s Foundation. “Through their compassion and generosity they have helped to bring joy to our patients and their families during this holiday season.”
Among the recipients of the gifts was Jaden Poole, 10, of Warren, who has an inoperable mass in his brain, first diagnosed in October. The Hirschbecks brought him LeBron James and Michael Jordan gear, as well as an iPad.
“The journey I’m on is very hard to understand, and we know one day God is going to bring one of his children back to him,” Jaden’s mother, Celeste Rodgers, said. “Every moment that people reach out to Jaden and make him feel special is so amazing. We’re so blessed and thankful.”
Dante Colbert, 4, from Leavittsburg, is an energetic young man with a history of digestive issues and other complex conditions. His mother, Heather Hadley, has raised him on her own and recently started working toward a degree in nursing after being inspired by the care Dante has received.
“It’s truly a blessing to receive these gifts,” Hadley said. “It’s really awesome that they’re doing this for families like us.”
Eleven year-old Justin Nichols from East Liverpool sees multiple doctors and physical therapists three or more times per week for a complex and chronic blood vessel disorder that affects several internal organs. He received a Playstation 4 and Pittsburgh Steelers gear.
“It was amazing,” said his mother, Tammy Stovall. “Without this, Christmas was going to be very sparse, and as you can tell by the look on his face it meant a lot.”