OXFORD — A program striving to enrich the lives of sick children is becoming an official student organization at Miami University.
Swoop’s Stoop — started in 2010 by then Miami student and hockey player Cody Reichard — sends student-athletes from the university to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to visit with sick children and brighten their day through fun activities.
“It’s a really unique experience we can give to the kids because a lot are stuck in the hospital with horrible illnesses,” said Sarah Chaney, a junior at Miami and member of the women’s volleyball team.
Members from all varsity sports across the university have been making visits to the hospital since the 2010-11 school year, but it’s just now seeking to become an official, organized on-campus student group, said John Strawser, a 1986 graduate of Miami who serves as a mentor to the organization.
Strawser said he first became a mentor to Reichard — now a professional hockey player — in 2010 when Swoop’s Stoop approached the university’s Red & White Club, the athletics fundraising arm, for support.
“Cody is very passionate and it affected him and changed his life,” Strawser said. “To take the kids away from the environment they’re in, if just for an hour.”
The student-athletes visit the downtown Cincinnati hospital to play with the children, deliver blankets and gifts to the patients, and lend a hand and an ear to parents in need of a break, said Lisa Hall, operations coordinator of Child Life and Integrative Care department at Cincinnati Children’s.
“They hangout in the activity room and do whatever the kid wants; it’s a huge distraction for them,” Hall said. “Parents are here months on end … it’s nice to know there’s somebody else that can play with their kid if they need a break.”
Chaney said groups of student-athletes will be at the hospital April 25-26 as a roll out event to the official student organization.
A goal of Swoop’s Stoop is to raise about $12,000 to purchase a themed cover for an MRI machine at the hospital — such as pirate ship, jungle or castle — to make the machines “less scary,” Chaney said.
Chaney said the group also hopes to further extend its help to parents through catered lunches or gift cards.
“(The students) are blessed athletically, and most academically, but they’re understanding at a very young age it’s good to give back and help out, and that’s fulfilling to see,” Strawser said.