Photo of children enjoying festivities
Happy, smiling faces of a former patient and sibling.

One of the best sources of support for hospitalized children is other children who have recovered and returned home. To help celebrate these important interactions and facilitate the healing process, the Sacramento Monarchs joined Children's Miracle Network on July 20 to hold a special reception and play a WNBA game to honor current and former UC Davis Children's Hospital patients and their families.

Just before tip-off, some kids got the chance to shoot hoops with the team and Monty the dragon — the Monarchs' mascot. They also painted signs to help cheer the home team, who won the game.

"No one knows what it is like to have a child in the hospital better than a parent who has experienced the same thing," said Anthony Philipps, medical director of UC Davis Children's Hospital. "This event provides a community of support for families at a tough time in their lives. It is a celebration for all of them."

Tina Thorman, who attended with sons Evan and Mason, was thrilled to visit with one of Evan's first physicians in a different setting than when he was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

"It was so great to see Dr. Philipps when he could just smile and talk with us. When you are in the NICU, you don't always get to see a lot of smiles," she said.

Photo of children with Monarch's mascot
Children enjoy festivities with Monarch's mascot, Monty.

Also honored at the event were the region's top sellers of "miracle balloons," a Children's Miracle Network campaign that raises more than a half million dollars annually. "Miracle makers" from Costco, Wal-Mart, RE/MAX, A Taste of Fair Oaks and Rite Aid watched the game along with the kids. Proceeds from some ticket sales for the game were donated to Children's Miracle Network by Maloof Sports and Entertainment, owners of the Monarchs.

"Hopefully, this will become an annual event," said Thorman. "It was a fantastic way to celebrate these children's amazing lives and give them all something special since they have all gone through so much."