CLEVELAND – Sailors from USS Cleveland (LPD 7) visited patients at the Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital Aug. 27 in Cleveland, Ohio while visiting for Cleveland Navy Week.
The crew members took stuffed bears and command ball caps to patients at the hospital along with Rear Adm. Julius S. Caesar, Reserve Deputy Commander, Commander, Navy Installations Command.
“We normally get college and high school student volunteers, as well as professional athletes who sometimes come strictly to visit and sign autographs, but military not too often,” said Marge Galla, Volunteer Services Coordinator of University Hospitals Case Medical Center. “The last time we had the military over was last year during Cleveland’s Navy Week.”
Sailors were welcomed with open arms as they delivered warm greetings to the children and delivered a welcome dose of smiles and laughter.
“It is very exciting when the military comes,” said Galla. “Parents enjoy it just as much as the kids. They want to hear and share stories with the Sailors.”
One parent, Donna Fetzer, said having her son Bladen spend some time with the Sailors was very rewarding.
"It's nice to see they care and are able to take the time to visit," said Fetzer. "This was an awesome experience and I am thankful for their service."
Towards the end of the visit, the group led by Lt. j.g. Laura Blount, came together and sang “Happy Birthday” to one of the patients.
“This is the highlight of the trip for me,” said Blount. “I love working with kids and it brings me joy especially when their faces light up. I’m glad I could be a part of this.”
While in Cleveland, the crew also participated in a project with Habitat for Humanity, where the laid foundation and decking for the first floor of a proposed two-story house. Volunteers tackled various tasks from cutting lumber, moving soil, and nailing down support beams.
“It was a lot of fun and I enjoyed every moment of it,” said Operations Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Brett Salsman. “It feels good knowing that one day a family will benefit from what we accomplished today and hopefully generations to come.”
USS Cleveland is the Navy’s oldest operating amphibious ship and recently completed a seven-month deployment to the western Pacific and Arabian Gulf. The crew made the scheduled visit in support of Cleveland Navy Week.