Washington Nationals star Bryce Harper partnered with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) through Harper’s Heroes, a program that allows kids battling blood cancers to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience by sharing a day at the ballpark with the 2015 National League MVP.
“There’s nothing better than bringing in a group of kids and their families,” Harper told NBC News 4 Washington. “Taking them away from the everyday [routine] of going to the hospital, and the pain and suffering they go through. Have them smile and laugh, and enjoy their time here watching Nationals baseball.”
Patients, survivors and their families enjoy a meet-and-greet with Harper, 25, who answers any questions the kids might have in an open-floor Q&A. (His favorite baseball player is Derek Jeter and his favorite cereal is Fruity Pebbles, by the way.)
“The questions, the smiles, the laughs we get,” Harper says. “Those are the best.”
Harper also signs autographs and takes pictures with Harper’s Heroes, creating lasting memories and coveted memorabilia in the process. The day wraps up with Harper’s Heroes attending a Washington Nationals game, sitting in the right field bleachers behind the Nats’ five-time All-Star outfielder.
Last year, Harper also teamed with New Era Caps to design a limited-edition baseball cap for Harper’s Heroes, with part of the proceeds from sales going to The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. And while Harper’s generosity with his time and money has not gone unnoticed, he’d prefer to keep his charitable contributions confined to Harper’s Heroes themselves, and not tarnish the day by turning it into a media spectacle.
“This is something that really hits home for me,” Harper said at the New Era Caps unveiling last year. “It gets me a little emotional talking about it. I had a couple friends and family members who have gone through it. When I was growing up, I never wanted to do it for the cameras or for the TVs or anything like that.
“This was all just for me, to bring the families in and see the smiles and get them away from the everyday life and that struggle.”