Patients in the hematology and oncology unit at Loma Linda University Children's Hospital received a visit and gifts from a singer, an actor and a boxer last week.
Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins of the group TLC, actor and TV personality, Jason "Weeman" Acuña, and Josesito Lopez, current World Boxing Council silver welterweight champ visited Loma Linda on Wednesday Dec. 5, hospital spokeswoman Briana Pastorino said.
Watkins, Acuña and Lopez played video games, signed autographs and took photographs with the patients and their families in the hematology and oncology unit playroom, Pastorino said.
The hematology and oncology unit is a temporary home to children dealing with cancer and blood-borne diseases, including sickle cell anemia, Pastorino said.
Watkins, who was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia at birth and was later told she wouldn’t live to see age 30 or have children, connected with several young patients during her visit, Pastorino said.
"I hold a special place in my heart for these kids because I know firsthand what it's like to live with an illness you have no control over," said Watkins, who is now 39 and mother to her nine-year-old daughter. "I want to encourage these kids and remind them that life can and will go on for them."
Watkins, Acuña and Lopez distributed Nike gift bags to the patients, and they delivered two X-Box Kinect gaming systems to the hospital, Pastorino said.
"This is so cool!" 12-year-old Brianna Contiselli said when she met Acuña. "I really like his show."
It was Acuña's first visit to Loma Linda University Children's Hospital.
"I love doing things like this," Acuña said. "It's a lot of fun for me to hang out with the kids. . . . It's really easy for me connect with them because I am literally at their level."
Loma Linda University Children's Hospital is billed as the only dedicated pediatric hospital in San Bernardino, Riverside, Inyo and Mono counties.