Twins make kids' holidays bright
By Todd Lorenz / MLB.com




Corey Koskie delivers a gift bag to one of the youngsters at the holiday event. (Courtesy Minnesota Twins)



MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Twins helped get the holiday season started a little bit early for some young patients at the Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare Center and Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minn., this year.

Earlier this month, Twins third baseman Corey Koskie, manager Ron Gardenhire, pitching coach Rick Anderson, Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew, three-time batting champion Tony Oliva and power-hitting mascot T.C. visited the hospitals to deliver gift bags to some ailing children.

"That's what it's all about," Gardenhire said. "Helping out the people who come out and support you -- making sure that you show appreciation. Just seeing the kids and being able to put a smile on their face for a little while is something really special. Being able to get down there was something that I really wanted to do and we had a great time."

And so did the kids. Each gift bag contained a Twins bobblehead doll, T-Shirt, cap, player card plaque, baseball and other small items which were all individually wrapped by Twins employees.

"Most of the kids were big Twins fans," Gardenhire said. "T.C. is always a big hit with them. They were really excited that we brought them a few goodies and they were just ripping into the packages. It was a lot of fun."

While having fun was the top priority that day, there was some touching moments as well.

"There was one little guy that was following behind T.C. in his wheel chair," Gardenhire said when asked about his favorite moment. "T.C. was making faces at him and had him giggling and laughing the whole time. If something like that doesn't make your heart feel good then nothing will."

For Koskie, the highlight of the day was a little more personal.

"The best part was seeing one of the kids that I haven't seen since TwinsFest last year," he said. "He'd had some kind of a spinal cord injury and he's been rehabbing. Now he's starting to walk a little bit. Just to see him make so much progress was really encouraging."

As the only Twins player residing in Minnesota year-round, Koskie takes pride in working for his community. On Dec. 7, he voluntarily slept outside as part of Bob's Sleepout, an annual event that began in 1996 and raised more than $750,000 for homeless families in the Western suburbs of Minneapolis this year.

"I just do what I can," Koskie said. "If I can help out -- great. Everybody talks about giving back to the community because you're an athlete. I do it because I want to. I'm part of a community and I think it's important to help out however you can. Just because you're an athlete doesn't mean you have to do this kind of thing. Everyone can do it and we should do it more."

Without question Koskie and the rest of the Twins enjoyed spending the day with the kids, but they left behind much more than a few presents. They gave a group of extremely brave kids the kind of memories that last a lifetime.

"It makes such a lasting impression for of these kids to have their sports heroes visit them," Child Life Specialist Barbara Gogan said. "For a lot of them it makes their year. It gives them a sense of inspiration and hope and to meet them in person is incredible for these kids."

If you would like to learn more about the Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare center visit their web site or call (651)291-2848.

Todd Lorenz is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story as not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.