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Heartland Hospice Helps Patient Attend First Cleveland Indians Baseball Game

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Heartland Hospice serving Northeast Ohio, a division of ProMedica, helped patient, Shirley Malzer, attend her first Cleveland Indians baseball game.

Shirley resides at Heartland of Mentor and if you were to meet her, you would see her sitting in her wheelchair wearing her favorite Tribe shirt and baseball hat. Shirley grew up in New York and later moved to Ohio and raised her two children. She was a United Church minister who cared for the sick in her community. Even though she is from New York, she is a lifelong Cleveland Indians fan and never had the opportunity to attend a game. It was her dream to see the team she loves in person, to hear the drum beat before each pitch, to see the “beer guy” walking the stands and to eat a stadium hotdog.

On August 25, 2019, through the Cleveland Indians partnership with the Major League Baseball Commissioner’s Community Initiative, Shirley was finally able to attend a Cleveland Indians baseball game with her family, Heartland Hospice and Heartland of Mentor staff. Once Shirley arrived at Progressive Field to watch her team, she received a “First Visit to Progressive Field” certificate from the Fan Ambassadors.

All throughout the game, Fan Ambassadors came to visit with Shirley and gave her endless amounts of Tribe memorabilia, including bags filled with a hat donated by CLE Clothing Co., a Clevinger bobblehead, a game ball with a little extra dirt from the field, and more! They gave Shirley a tour of the stadium on the way to the dugout for her to finish watching the game when it went into extra innings. While Shirley was being escorted to the dugout area, she ran into several of the stadium mascots: Ketchup, Onion and Mustard. She was asked to run the bases and represent Mustard during her run. Shirley was smiling the whole time while on Progressive Field running the bases, and Mustard helped her to reach home plate before Ketchup and Onion!

“I cannot thank everyone enough for the love and care that has been provided to my mother and our family. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. For what you did and how you put yourselves out there, to take your own personal time for my mom is just beyond words for me,” said Debby Lurch, Shirley’s daughter.

“We will be forever grateful to the Cleveland Indians organization for the gift they gave to Shirley and her family that day. Witnessing Shirley’s smile and the reaction of her family was one of the most rewarding moments of my career,” said Sarah Davis, RN, Heartland Hospice Director of Professional Services.

“Her smile will leave an impression on me the rest of my life. I’m a lifelong Cleveland Indians fan and have many memories at the ballpark, but that day with Shirley will forever be my favorite!” said Krysta Falasca, Heartland Hospice Volunteer Coordinator.

“My biggest impression from the day was Shirley’s smile that lasted the entire time. For a patient who sometimes has trouble staying awake during activities, it was just incredible to see how happy and engaged she was the entire time,” said Gloria Basista, Heartland Hospice RN Case Manager.

“It was an incredible amount of team work that came from all aspects of hospice to make her day memorable. It was a really nice experience to be with the people I see every day in the office or field, but in a new way to build our relationships and comradery. This was my first time at a game too, and it was an awesome experience,” said Beth Hakli, Heartland Hospice RN Case Manager.

A big thank you goes out to everyone who assisted in making Shirley’s dream come true: Tricia Vidovic, Arden Courts of Chagrin Falls Marketing Director; Anthony Overton, Heartland Hospice Manager of Business Development; Sarah Davis, Heartland Hospice Senior Director of Professional Services; Krysta Falasca, Heartland Hospice Volunteer Coordinator; Fan Ambassadors including Megan Evans and Abi Rathbone at Progressive Field; the Cleveland Indians and of course Shirley Malzer for letting Heartland be a part of her dream!

Shirley’s smile was contagious to everyone around her the entire day. Go Tribe!