The tradition of Opening Day is a big deal in Cincinnati. The return of baseball is treated as a holiday and Reds fans celebrate accordingly. So when one local family couldn’t make the celebration downtown yesterday, they brought the celebration to the hospital.
The Welage family usually spends Opening Day out with the crowd at the Findlay Market Parade, wearing their home-made Reds Heads on Fountain Square and rooting for the home team. This year the Welages were at the hospital rooting for their youngest son in his fight with cancer.
“Since our family couldn’t make it to Reds Opening Day this year, we thought we’d bring Opening Day to the hospital,” said dad Bryan Welage. Bryan, his wife Jennifer and their three older kids brought their six paper mache Reds Heads – designed to look like the team’s mascots Mr. Redlegs and Rosie Red – to A5 so that everyone on their son’s floor could enjoy some of the excitement of the day.
Inpatients and families joined the Welages for an Opening Day party in the playroom where they watched the festivities on TV and took fun photos of themselves in the Reds Heads. Their son Bodi’s physician, Dr. Brian Turpin, and their care team got in on the fun by completing morning rounds wearing striped red ballcaps, oversized mustaches and the one-of-a-kind Reds Heads (pictured right).
“It is always a joy to be able to put a smile on the faces of patients and families as they face such challenging obstacles throughout their treatment journeys,” said Jenna Shields, a Child Life specialist on the floor. “Celebrating days like Opening Day not only takes their minds off of being in the hospital, but also gives them an opportunity to take part in a Cincinnati tradition here at Cincinnati Children’s.”
Bodi Welage was born in January of this year and was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma last week. He is the family’s MVP! The Reds’ newest No. 1 fan has a long journey ahead, but Bryan said his son’s first Opening Day was a homerun.
“Chemo went well and Bodi also got a transfusion around 4 o’clock Monday morning. He is amazing. We’re having a great day,” Bryan told us yesterday.
Our thanks to the Welage family for making Opening Day 2015 one to remember for the kids on A5.
TOP: (Pictured L to R) – Bryan holds Bodi for a photo with his sister Merrell, brother Buster, mom Jennifer, sister Kealy, and nurse Kerry Kohler in the family’s hospital room. BELOW: Guests of the A5 playroom pose for fun pictures wearing the Welage family’s Reds Heads on Opening Day 2015.