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Chicago Cubs Players and New Mascot Visit Young Fans at Advocate Illinois Masonic’s Pediatric Developmental Center

Chicago, Ill. – Jan. 14, 2014 – More than a dozen Chicago Cubs prospects from the Cubs Rookie Development Program, along with the Cubs’ new mascot, Clark, visited the Pediatric Developmental Center at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center on January 13, bringing excitement to some of the hospital’s youngest patients and their family members.

“Having a child with autism or other developmental challenges impacts family life and family traditions,” said Karen Fried, Psy.D., director of Developmental Pediatric Services at Illinois Masonic. “If a child has social, communication or behavioral challenges, the family may find it difficult to participate in their favorite community activities, like going to a baseball game, a restaurant or a place of worship. A feeling of isolation can result, precisely when social support and connectedness are needed most. For our patients and their parents and siblings, the visit from the Cubs was an opportunity for joy, to feel connected to their home team and home community.”

Fried said the Cubs are an important community partner for Advocate Health Care in helping families of children with special needs experience full inclusion in community life. Illinois Masonic is part of Advocate Health Care, the official health care sponsor of the Chicago Cubs.

Valerie Kelly, whose son Declan was one of the children at the event, called it a day he will never forget.

"Declan has not stopped talking about the event and his new friend, Kris [Bryant]," she said. "Declan is on the spectrum and has meltdowns sometimes. So we usually avoid overly stimulating or stressful situations, like Cubs games. It's so great that he got to participate in an event like this one, while in a familiar surrounding that made him feel comfortable."

Illinois Masonic’s Pediatric Developmental Center offers diagnosis and treatment for children and adolescents with autism and other developmental challenges. The center’s multidisciplinary team strives to develop new and innovative ways to assist young people in reaching their fullest potential, with a family-focused approach that enables the team to address the individual needs of the child as well as those of the siblings, parents and entire family.

Fried added that the Cubs’ visit was a meaningful opportunity for the Pediatric Developmental Center’s patients to practice important social and communication skills, like introducing themselves, asking and answering questions, imitating actions, being polite, playing a game with rules, showing good sportsmanship, staying calm in a new situation and demonstrating flexibility and self-control.

“The children are working on these skills in individual and group therapy, but it rounds out their learning experience tremendously if they can practice and master these skills in a natural environment,” Fried said. “We are grateful to the Cubs for partnering with us to create such a rich experience for our children and families.”

The visit was also a great learning opportunity for the Cubs rookies, said Cubs Senior Vice President of Scouting and Player Development Jason McLeod.

“Players in our Cubs Rookie Development Program are learning what it takes to transition to the Major Leagues, which includes serving as a positive role model to our fans. Our young players were able to experience the positive community interaction expected of them at the Major League level and, specifically, as a member of the Chicago Cubs,” McLeod said.

“Advocate Health Care and the Chicago Cubs share a commitment to enhancing the wellness of our communities,” said Kelly Jo Golson, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Advocate Health Care. “This event is a great example of two caring brands working together to raise awareness about autism and other developmental challenges while providing a fun experience for our young patients and their dedicated caregivers.”

About Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center

Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center is a 408-bed hospital in Chicago with a Level I trauma center and a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, the highest designations awarded by the state of Illinois. It offers comprehensive inpatient services, including medical, surgical, obstetrics and pediatric care, as well as a full breadth of outpatient services. A recipient of numerous awards for quality and clinical excellence, Illinois Masonic was ranked one of the nation’s 100 Top Hospitals in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 by Truven Health Analytics (formerly Thomson Reuters), as well as named a recipient of the organization’s Everest Award for National Benchmarks in 2010 and 2013. The medical center has also been named a Leader in the Human Rights Campaign’s Healthcare Equality Index for the past four years, as well as one of the Chicago region’s Best Hospitals by U.S. News & World Report for the past two years. In 2012, the hospital achieved Magnet redesignation for excellence and quality in nursing services by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Magnet Recognition Program, as well as certification as a Primary Stroke Center by The Joint Commission. Illinois Masonic is part of Advocate Health Care, a 2013 Truven Health Analytics Top 15 U.S. health care system for quality and clinical performance and the largest provider of health care services in Illinois. For more on Illinois Masonic, visit

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