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Rays Player Visits Pediatric Patients at Tampa General

Daniel Wallace
Tampa General Hospital
Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier signs an autograph for Janice Clauvil, 6.


Tampa Bay Raysoutfielder Kevin Kiermaier spent Thursday, Dec. 11 visiting pediatric patients at Tampa General Hospital.

According to Karen Van Cleaf, the pediatric nurse manager, visits like this help with one of the biggest issues for hospital patients: boredom.

“The kids, when you tell them that they’re going to be able to see somebody that they see on TV, or a sports hero, I mean it just brightens their whole day,” Van Cleaf said. “Anything that takes them from the hum-drum of being in the hospital.”

Kiermaier said it’s important for him to give back.

"You know my whole life, I've had pretty smooth sailing life, and I come in here, and I see toddlers in here going through what they are, and it just kind of makes me take a step back and just let me know how thankful I am,” Kiermair said. “All the kids here, I just hope for a safe and speedy recovery for all of them."


Janice Clauvil , a six-year-old who was diagnosed with sickle cell disease when she was two months old, was among the patients Kiermaier visited.

She had been at the hospital since Tuesday, her mom Guyrlene Clauvil of Tampa explained. In one of the playrooms at the Children's Medical Center, Janice was hooked up to an IV.

She didn’t know who Kiermaier was before the visit, but was eager to meet him, her mom said.  Janice asked enthusiastically for Kiermaier’s autograph, and giggled with delight after she got it.

"I am happy because she didn't really sleep much last night with pain, but I'm so excited that she's getting better, and I'm glad that she's happy now, I hope that she stays happy for the rest of the day,” Clauvil said.

A more in-depth feature aired on WUSF Dec. 29.

Lottie Watts was our Florida Matters producer from 2012 to 2016. She also covers health and health policy for WUSF's Health News Florida .