Love in CHEO!

Wives and girlfriends of the Ottawa Senator stopped by the Lion’s Den  Room at Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in February to help the patients get into the spirit for Valentine’s Day. Everyone had a great time!

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NASA “Rock Star” Outta This World!

Kobie Boykins – a NASA Senior Mechanical Engineer from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena – delivered presentations on the Mars Rover Program today to more than 600 school-aged children at The Cradle of Aviation Museum. The presentation was transmitted via Google Hangout by Companions in Courage Foundation to their Lion’s Den Rooms located in children’s hospitals across North America.

Boykins is considered a “rock star,” having been awarded a NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal in 2013.  He designed the solar array systems for the Mars exploration rovers Spirit and Opportunity, and designed the actuators on the Mars rover Curiosity.

He kept the planetarium, as well as the pediatric patients online, in rapt attention as he discussed the preparation that went in to sending each Rover to the Martian surface and the nuances of each mission. His enthusiasm was palpable as he talked about the incredibly valuable information that has already been gleaned from these missions.

The engineer explained that when Spirit and Opportunity were launched in 2003, there life expectancy was a mere 90 Martian days. Spirit roamed the red planet for 7 years, while Opportunity has traveled almost 30 miles on the Martian surface and is still functioning today.

Curiosity was launched in 2011, and Boykins shared a story with the children. He said, “If you were alive in November 2011, your name was included on a microchip that is traveling around on Mars with Curiosity!” He explained that the names of everyone on earth was included as a way of demonstrating how all-inclusive this mission is.

He shared a neat story about how the engineers originally wanted to have the initials, “JPL” (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) embedded into the wheel treads of Curiosity. He explained that idea was shot down by senior managers. So, the team came up with the ingenious idea of including “JPL” in Morse code on each tread.

Boykins explained that the team at JPL expects to launch the next Rover in 2020. Among many other features, it will include a device named, “MOXIE”. The object of the device is to take samples of the Martian atmosphere and convert it to 96{dbba103197f763f3625c83787b2ffe6b05a03ab690785f26a5579b932964cfa8} pure oxygen. Obviously, that will be an important development to determine if man could ever travel to the Martian surface.

The engineer explained that the technology exists to send a manned mission to Mars. But there are certain limitations, such as creating a rocket that could deliver a large enough payload to bring humans to the Martian surface. Coincidentally, later that day, the SpaceX organization launched their Falcon Heavy rocket on a trajectory toward Mars. Boykins predicted that could be big enough to get a payload that included humans to Mars safely. In fact, he added, “the astronauts who may one day visit Mars may currently be in the 2nd or 3rd grade!”

Support material for the program was created by The Cradle of Aviation Educational Director, Catherine Gonzalez. She was thrilled that her lesson plan could be shared with teachers located at some of the hospitals in the Lion’s Den network. She explained, “The Cradle has been designated by NASA as part of their “Apollo at 50” program. We expect to have quarterly presentations like this one to celebrate the space program and inspire young people to advance their studies in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mechanics. Our hope is to be able to bring as many of these programs as possible to Lion’s Den Rooms on the Companions in Courage Network.”

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Children’s Author Donates Proceeds

Furry and Fabulous – The Life and Times of Taylor Swift’s Cats, is the third book by Long Island teen author Taylor Sinett. Inspired by the battle her late “Nana Judi” fought against lymphoma, Taylor is donating all proceeds from the sale of this book to the CiC Foundation. Her hope is to raise enough money to purchase a Lion’s Den Room. (

The book follows the exploits of cats named Doctor Meredith Grey and Detective Olivia Benson. They travel the world, attend major events and have LOTS of celebrity friends. They think they are the superstars, but their “assistant,” Taylor is actually the famous one! They learn a lesson in cherishing love and friendship.

In 2013, Long Island student, Taylor Sinett drew a small picture of a weasel at camp. She was inspired to turn her adorable animal into a children’s book character and decided that her furry little protagonist could carry a big message. Inspired by her cousin Casey’s determination throughout a painful fight with ulcerative colitis, Sinett deftly created a storybook narrative about perseverance.

Taylor shared her book, A Weasel on an Easel, with many different students and was able to raise over $16,000 for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. Her second book, Jack on a Plaque, continued with her mission to empower children; Taylor’s lovable Yak, Jack, born with a short hoof, faces all the trials and tribulations of competing with a disadvantage


and yet never loses his optimism.  Taylor’s sales of Jack on a Plaque totaled more than $10,000, which she donated to the Cohen’s Children’s Hospital to purchase two vein finders that makes injections less painful.

Taylor continues to share her uplifting tales with students and hospital patients. She has received numerous awards and grants to continue to inspire kids to be charitable and creative. She is currently a junior at Schreiber High School in Port Washington, Long Island.

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Santa Connection 2017

One of the most anticipated days of the holidays for pediatric patients is the Companions in Courage Foundation’s Santa Connection. For a couple of days in early December, patients who are too sick to visit Santa in the local shopping mall, are treated to a personalized visit via Google Hangouts. Santa conducts his virtual visits from the North Pole, accompanied by some of his elves. The foundation also sends gift cards to each hospital so that Child Life staff members may purchase a gift for each patient who visits Santa.

Most of these visits are conducted in the hospital’s Lion’s Den Rooms. Using state-of-the-art communication tools, the children are beamed directly in to Santa’s living room, near his workshop. Santa is advised of each child’s name and he looks up the names of their siblings and pets. He tells each patient if they are currently on the “Naughty,” or the “Nice” list, and asks each child what they want as a Christmas gift. Because many of these children are from homes in under-served areas, this might be the only gift they receive for the holidays this year.

Santa had a full schedule this year, meeting and singing “Jingle Bells” on the first day with children from Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, Kravis Children’s at Mount Sinai, Wolfson Children’s, the new Oishei Children’s in Buffalo and CHOP in Philadelphia. On Day #2 he met  and sang “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” with patients and their families at Cohen Children’s, St. Louis Children’s, Goryeb Children’s and North Carolina Children’s Hospitals. As an added bonus, a multi-lingual Pere Noel spoke with the patients at Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario.

Some of Santa’s favorite visits were with Gavin, Jayden, Jocelyn, Julie (who had her entire family, including grandparents with her!) Porter, “Little” Josh, Grady (who got an American Girl doll from Santa!), Mimi and Beyla. A total of almost 100 patients somehow found their way on to Santa’s “Nice” list this year.

Many patients who were too ill to make their way to the Lion’s Den Room were able to connect with Santa via their new Google Chromebooks, that had been donated by the tech giant and Companions in Courage Foundation in September. These handy devices made it easy for Santa to be with some of his most precious children at their bedsides during the Santa Connection. Very special thanks were extended by Santa to all of the Child Life and tech support people at each hospital who made the visits seamless.

Of special note was the preparation and participation of Steve Maykowski from Google and Mark Leff of Cisco Systems. They set up multiple tests with each hospital in advance of the big day, and then worked tirelessly for two days behind the scenes to ensure smooth delivery of each session. They were joined by “Elf” Amber Browning-Coyle of “Spotlight On,” and “Elf” Nicole Desantis from Google. Along with volunteers from St. Dominic’s High School on Long Island, who manned the social media aspects of the day, they made each patient visit very special. Some photos from the day are available in our Gallery at

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Baker Mayfield Brings Heisman to Hospital

By NY1 News  |  December 10, 2017 @5:31 PM

Patients at Mount Sinai Children’s Hospital got a special visitor Sunday, as Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield spread some holiday cheer to children recovering from a variety of treatments.

“The kids make it easy, you know. We talk about the offseason, people talk about the grind that we go through, but nothing compares to what kids go through in hospitals,” Mayfield said. “Being able to give back and put smiles on faces, be around the kids, it means a lot.”

He appeared on the hospital’s television channel and in a Google Hangout in the hospital’s interactive Lion’s Den Room, taking calls from patients and answering questions.

“Basically, he showed me that anything is possible if you just put your mind to it and if you work hard and just do what you have to do, you can be in the same position he’s in,” said one of the children.

Hospital staff said Mayfield is just the first of some special guests scheduled this season.

Mayfield, a quarterback for the Oklahoma Sooners, took home the Heisman Trophy on Saturday night. The honor is given out every year to the most outstanding college football player.

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15th Annual Golf Classic

HUNTINGTON, NY, October 5, 2017  –  Pat LaFontaine hosted his annual CiC Foundation Golf Classic at Huntington Country Club on Long Island and helped raise money and awareness for the organization that now serves almost 60,000 pediatric patients per year in hospitals throughout North America.

The day was filled with poignant moments, including traditional tributes to CiC Foundation supporters who have passed on. The golf course, and later, the dining room was filled with a spirit and enthusiasm that is contagious and inspiring.

LaFontaine introduced a young children’s author from Schreiber High School in Port Washington. Taylor Sinett has committed all of the proceeds from the sale of her third children’s book, “Furry and Fabulous,” to the CiC Foundation. Her goal is to raise enough money to build a Lion’s Den Room in memory of her recently departed “Nana Judi.” The author said, “my beautiful Nana was always my biggest supporter in charities that I believed in.”

Sinett was joined at the dinner by her mom, dad and brother. They brought along cases of the new book (, and those in the room enthusiastically sponsored (@$400) a case of books for each of the 20 Lion’s Den hospitals.

Diane Rode, Director of Child Life at Kravis Children’s at Mount Sinai Hospital delivered a stirring keynote presentation on the importance of services like a Lion’s Den Room in patient care.  With approval of the participants, she shared a poignant voice message between a patient and her mother, recorded from their Lion’s Den Room. Without the technology in the room, that conversation might never have taken place, or could have been very different. Rode spoke about how the Lion’s Den was utilized annually for the Heisman Trophy winner visit, the Santa Connection and how it was the home for pet therapy visits with the patients. She said, “our partnership with CiC Foundation is cherished and invaluable. Thank you to Pat and Jim for all they do on behalf of our patients.”

Mike Fabian, vice president of Art Guild – the fabricators and installers of Lion’s Den Rooms – was recognized at the dinner with the foundation’s Pioneer Award. Jim Johnson, the foundation’s executive director, introduced Fabian by saying that the award was “long overdue,” but after 20 Lion’s Den rooms, it was time to honor Fabian for his contribution to CiC’s success. Fabian said, “I’m just humbled and proud to be a part of CiC, and look forward to many more rooms to come.”

LaFontaine led a contingent of celebrities that featured fellow Hockey Hall of Famer Clark Gillies. The field of celebrities included former NBA star Wally Szczerbiak, his dad Walter Szczerbiak, and hockey’s Benoit Hogue, Bob Nystrom, Pat Jablonski, Randy Wood and Steve Webb.

Johnny Glavinic, from the Croatian-American Foundation, was the overall champ on the course, shooting a 66. He was just two strokes better than runner-up Wally Szczerbiak. Greg Heinssen, a guest of Mike  Heagerty, won the Long Drive contest with a bomb on Hole # 7, while Brian O’Day won the Closest-to-the-Pin contest (17”) on Hole #12. Nick Patti, Jr. won the “Closest-to-the-Goal” contest on #18.

The foursome captained by Szczerbiak – including Glavinic, Tommy Nagolo and Mike Matura took the low gross team honors with a score of 62. By two strokes, they edged out the team of Mike Dischmann, Greg Heinssen, Don Krause and Tony Trombino.

Raffle sponsors helped contribute to the generation of several thousand additional dollars this year. Donors included: Sal Paterno of Milano Men’s Fashion, the Joe McMahon Family Foundation, Geoff Dubrowsky, Darran Brown of Go Charity, Frank Bellizzi and Three Monkeys Wine.

Many golfers took advantage of pre-round amenities offered by local businesses. Steven Login of Golf & Body offered massage and stretching. His shop features proactive physical therapy and wellness for men and women looking to remain active. Shelley Kraft offered the unique experience of a hot lather shave for those wanting to look their best on the course. She offers that service daily at 18/8 Fine Men’s Salon in Woodbury.

LaFontaine thanked the Franchise sponsor – Mike Heagerty of Edward E. Hall Insurance. He also thanked the Major sponsors that included the Heagerty Family Foundation, , Rob MacInnis, Striano Electric, Lombardi Design, NHL Foundation, Ferreiro Construction, Sean McAuley, Mutual of Omaha Insurance, Jerry Wood, Delaney Contracting, Barclay’s, NFP Insurance, Patti & Sons, Inc., Automated Healthcare Solutions, TVR Communications, Unsung Siblings Foundation, Michael McCarthy Foundation, Croatian-American Foundation and Sun Seven Stars Media.

LaFontaine also thanked Jim Botto of Botto Mechanical for sponsoring the Caddies; John Saia of Gemstar Construction and Jerry Wood for sponsoring the Texas Hold’em Tournament;  Bobby Walsh of Walsh Construction and Rob MacInnis for sponsoring the Premium Cigars; Vince Striano of Striano Electric for sponsoring the Practice Green and Jimmy Brown of Harbor Irrigation for sponsoring the Driving Range.

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CT Children’s Medical opens “Family” Room

The Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the newest addition to their hospital, “The Lion’s Den,” on May 23rd. The room was provided by hockey Hall of Famer Pat LaFontaine and his Companions in Courage Foundation.

LaFontaine attended the ribbon-cutting and reflected on how the funding for the room was provided by the Masotta Family of Hamden. He said, “Before Fred and Diane passed away, they donated funds and encouraged friends and family to do the same. Their goal was to provide a place for families and patients to relax during long hospital stays. This room will serve as their legacy for years to come.”

CCMC is the 20th hospital in the nation to receive a high-tech room like this for patients. The original design for the space was created by Edwin Schlossberg and ESI Design of New York City. The fabrication and installation was completed by Art Guild, Inc. of New Jersey. The colorful room features three computer stations, so patients can connect with family and classmates during treatment. 

The room also features 3 X-Box game consoles, a large-screen television equipped with a camera for patients to watch movies and connect with their heroes in “Google Hangouts.” 

This Lion’s Den also has plenty of storage, an activity table and a designated play area on the floor so toddlers can crawl and have fun.

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A Mother’s Day Story

Every so often, a parent will take a moment out from their time at a hospital to drop us a note to let us know how important the Lion’s Den was to them and their family. We certainly never expect to get these notes, but when they do come in, we cherish them with gusto.

Recently we received a very kind note from Megan Looney – the mother of 2-year-old Jonathan – a patient at North Carolina Children’s Hospital. Megan and her husband Jeremy, have three other children, and during Jonathan’s treatments, they made the Lion’s Den their home. With her permission, we share their story this Mother’s Day weekend:

My son Jonathan was inpatient on 5 Childrens at UNC for 5 months.  He is in remission for AML Leukemia.  After the shock of learning our son had cancer, the next big shock was learning he would need to stay in the hospital for the next 5 months, only going home once a month for a week or so.  Our son was about to turn 2 and was, and is, incredibly active.  I should mention that he also has Down Syndrome, and he can’t understand that he has to stay in a hospital room, or can’t play on the floor.  And he has no interest in lying in bed and watching movies like most of his floor-mates.

 What would we have done without the Lions Den??  Usually twice every day, Jonathan played in there.  He could crawl on a clean floor and get his wiggles out.  He learned to walk in there.  Most of his therapy sessions (OT, PT, Speech) were held in there.   In the evenings, my husband and three other children would join us in there for dinner.  It felt almost normal, because we could sit at the table and eat as a family as Jonathan played at our feet. 

 There are not sufficient words that can express to you what a God-send the Lion’s Den was to our family.  We are so very grateful to you and every person who made that project possible.  Having a room like that helped us keep our sanity by giving our son a place to be a kid, and do normal things.  It gave us an opportunity to get out of our room when his low counts kept us from going anywhere else.  It was priceless when I could lay down on a clean floor and let my child crawl all over me, just like at home. 

 Thank you, thank you, thank you.  Please pass on my thanks to the appropriate people.


Megan Looney

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Top-100 Portrait Revealed @NHL

 As part of the NHL Centennial Celebration, renowned Canadian artist Tony Harris will paint original portraits of each of the 100 Greatest NHL Players presented by Molson Canadian as chosen by a Blue Ribbon panel. will reveal two portraits each Monday in 2017.

This week, the portraits of forwards Pat LaFontaine and Marcel Dionne are unveiled in the 11th installment.LaFontaine, who played eight seasons with the New York Islanders, six with the Buffalo Sabres and one with the New York Rangers, is the fifth-highest United States-born goal scorer in NHL history, with 468 goals in 865 games. 

In his NHL100 profile on LaFontaine, author Kevin Allen says he was an inspiration for American hockey’s greatest generation.

“LaFontaine, a 2003 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee, is considered a member of American hockey’s greatest generation, a contemporary of players like Mike Modano, Jeremy Roenick, Bill Guerin, Mike Richter, Keith Tkachuk. But he also served as an inspiration for them because he was establishing himself as an American star when they were at impressionable ages.

When LaFontaine broke into the NHL, Tkachuk was 11, Guerin was 13 and Roenick 14.”

Harris said he was hoping to capture two aspects of LaFontaine’s game in his portrait.  

“I was always fascinated that Pat LaFontaine grew up in the U.S. but came to Quebec to play junior hockey, putting him on the Canadian hockey radar at an early age,” he said. “My hope for this portrait was to demonstrate the agility and speed with which he played.”

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LaFontaine: 100 Greatest NHL Players

Mike Bossy, Denis Potvin, Billy Smith, Pat LaFontaine, Bryan Trottier

Classy, hard-working forward ranks fifth in goals among United States-born player

by Kevin Allen / Special to    -January 27, 2017

The Pat LaFontaine era with the New York Islanders started with general manager Bill Torrey’s disinformation campaign to hoodwink competitors into believing they weren’t interested in him.

“I told my secretary that if [Minnesota North Stars general manager] Lou Nanne called, and asked where I was, to tell him I’m up in Rhode Island,” Torrey said.

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