The old adage that charity begins at home came to life last Friday, when Major Leaguer Anthony Swarzak returned to the hospital of his birth with Action Team Captains to deliver gifts to those children unfortunate to be hospitalized during the holidays.
More than 30 Action Team Captains from Cypress Bay High School joined Swarzak in making some extra special deliveries at Chris Evert Children’s Hospital in Ft. Lauderdale.
This special day began weeks before when the Team Captains, many of them members of the Cypress Bay baseball team, organized a toy drive that resulted in the collection of over 800 gifts. The gifts were then sorted by age groups and wrapped by the Action Team.
The teen Captains were eager to pass out the toys and gifts to the hundreds of children in the hospital during this second annual “Kaitlyn’s Gift” toy drive, named in honor of Cypress Bay head baseball coach Paul Liotti’s daughter. Paul’s daughter, 10-year old, Kaitlyn, is a liver cancer survivor. Kaitlyn came up with the idea and sought out the assistance of the Action Team Captains. Together, they teamed up to give back to those who are going through what Kaitlyn once had to face.
Last year, the program’s first, the group managed to provide more than 200 gifts to children at Chris Evert Children’s Hospital, and this year they quadrupled last year’s total.
Cypress Bay Action Team adult coordinator and baseball coach, Howard Steirn, is extremely proud of his Action Team Captains, “We had about 30 Action Team members and our entire school and surrounding community helping us collect and donate the 800-plus presents. If only you could have seen the smiles on the children’s faces and our coach’s daughter [Kaitlyn] during their interactions with Anthony.”
The event was special and memorable for all involved. The Action Team Captains were able to give back to their close-knit community, Kaitlyn was able to help other children who were feeling the pain she had once endured.
The event also proved memorable for Swarzak. “ I was really taken back by Kaitlyn, she was really an amazing little girl and it really touched my wife and I…her courage and how she was with the kids. There are many sick children benefiting from her determination to give back.”