South Florida

Sailors Visit Sick Kids During Fleet Week

Some of America's toughest men and women spent Tuesday morning showing their softer side to a group of South Florida children battling deadly diseases.

Among the group of children is three-year-old Samuel, who’s suffering from a brain tumor. He was cheered on by more than a dozen sailors visiting South Florida for Fleet Week.

"You know, [this] really makes me happy because I don't get to do this every day. This is awesome," said sailor Heidy Jimenez.

The sailors stopped by Salah Foundation Children’s Hospital in Fort Lauderdale to take a moment from their Fleet Week festivities. They met with kids like Samuel and 10-year-old Amanda Aiello, who was diagnosed with Leukemia three weeks ago and wears a mask to prevent infection.

"Everyone likes to say that we're heroes, but you know seeing the struggle that she's going through and seeing her fight, she's more of a hero than we are," said sailor John Hodge, a Pompano Beach native.

Hodge is a mechanic on a submarine, but he also knows what it's like to have a sick child. In February, his one-year-old daughter Jayla spent a week and a half at the same hospital he visited. She needed a transfusion for a low blood cell count, but she is now back home and healthy.

"It's good to come back and be able to see the kids in a different light this time” Hodge said.

Shannon Aiello, whose daughter is a patient at the hospital, was happy and grateful for the sailors’ visit. An online donation page has been set up to help the family with medical costs.

"She can't leave the hospital. This has been a real treat, thank you. This is a bright light of her day," said Aiello.

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