International Soccer Stars Visit Pediatric Patients as Part of Florida Cup Festivities

A group of girls playing soccer.
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The patients at AdventHealth for Children may not be able to experience the upcoming Florida Cup in person, but several international soccer stars and a popular mascot brought the excitement of the festivities to the hospital Wednesday.

Athletes Ricardo Villar, Bruno Guarda and Fernando Radaelli were among the special guests, who also included Brian the Lion, mascot from the Bayer 04 Leverkusen German soccer club, and musician Fabio Brazza.

Villar, who is also CEO of the Florida Cup, said the visit was an important opportunity for the Florida Cup and fellow athletes give back to the community.

This is the most fun, he said. To see all the kids smiling its the most important thing.

Their visit comes just days before the Florida Cup, which brings nine of the worlds elite soccer teams to Central Florida. Beginning Jan. 10, teams from Brazil, Germany, Ukraine, Colombia and the United States will train and compete at Disney’s Wide World of Sports. AdventHealth is a proud partner of the Florida Cup and is providing medical services to the teams.

During Wednesdays visit, patients received toys, hats and other gifts from the special visitors, and also played music with Brazza.

It was really fun because we got to get out of the room and meet a lot of cool people, said 16-year-old patient Shalisa Gunn.

The visit gave patients a much-needed opportunity to smile, laugh and have fun.

Normally, they would be on their sports teams and playing and at school and having fun, and when they’re at the hospital, the children don’t get to do that, said Meagan Krizek-Fonseca, volunteer manager and special event coordinator at AdventHealth for Children. Today, the players came and are bringing smiles to their faces, and reminding them they are still children, regardless of what's going on.

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