Local businesses in Santa Monica are coming together to support the employees and the patients of UCLA Medical Center.

The pediatrics unit at the Mattel Children’s hospital is constantly working with children of all ages from newborns to young adults. Many of the kids walking the halls are fighting chronic diseases or cancer. Some spend hours in chemotherapy while others stay in bed for weeks.

David Arias, five-year-old Dodger fan is currently fighting Ewing Sarcoma, a form of bone cancer. This causes Arias to stay in a wheelchair and very rarely leave the hospital room.

There is a time when Arias and many of the other children do not feel ill, or sad. The children feel a new form of energy, positivity and hope because of the surprise visits they receive from the coaches at Gloveworx.

Gloveworx is a boxing studio located in Santa Monica, founded by Leyon Azubuike. Leyon and his team head over to the pediatrics unit multiple times throughout the year to play board games, cards, even punch a couple bags with the kids.

“I am all about giving back, I have always had a passion for helping out and doing whatever I can”, said Leyon. “Being part of a community is great, but there is no other reward better than seeing the smiles of these kids. They are beaming with life, and positivity, you see hope in their eyes. That makes my day better and that is why we do this.”

There are times when some of the children who unfortunately cannot leave the room or even get out of bed. Leyon and his team members head over to the rooms and sit bedside with them, make jokes, tell stories and talk.

“We appreciate all the love and support that we get from the businesses in Santa Monica,” said Laila Ramji, Child Life Specialist. “It is amazing to see so much support. Gloveworx is really putting in so much effort and time we are truly grateful because we know how happy it makes the kids. The coaches really have a good heart and it makes the kids day.”

Gloveworx will be returning to the hospital toward the end of the year to organize a toy drive for the kids. They are one of the many local businesses that help out the UCLA Medical Center.

The Lollipop Theatre Network, founded in 2001 is a national organization based in Santa Monica. They deliver the newest movies to children’s hospitals including UCLA. The organization made a recent trip to the hospital in September to show the new film, Storks.

The Santa Monica Fire Department and Whole Foods on Wilshire put together a toy drive every year to benefit the patients.

There are multiple restaurants surrounding the medical center that provide discounts to patients and employees. Izzy’s Deli has been giving UCLA employees a 15 percent discount for more than 10 years. Café Zella and Santa Monica Pizza Kitchen give the employees and patients of UCLA Medical Center a 10 percent discount for their meals.

Ingo’s is joining the partnership and now offering a discount price for patients, family members along with UCLA employees.

By MARINA ANDALON

marina@smdp.com

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