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Rady Children's Center gets All-Star upgrade

MLB.com @Marathoner

SAN DIEGO -- While the first key on-field event of All-Star Week was happening on Sunday afternoon at Petco Park, with the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, Major League Baseball and the host Padres were continuing with Day 4 of their sweeping All-Star Legacy community program by visiting Rady Children's Hospital for the donation of a newly WiFi-enabled Starlight Fun Center for young patients.

Attending the event were MLB Goodwill Ambassador Vera Clemente, wife of the late Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente; Tom Brasuell, MLB vice president of community affairs; Eric McKenzie, Padres vice president of ticket sales; Carol Damon-Scherer, vice president of corporate and community development at Rady Children's; Christopher de Haan, Starlight Foundation senior director of global public relations; and a slew of Major League mascots, including the Padres' omnipresent Friar.

SAN DIEGO -- While the first key on-field event of All-Star Week was happening on Sunday afternoon at Petco Park, with the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, Major League Baseball and the host Padres were continuing with Day 4 of their sweeping All-Star Legacy community program by visiting Rady Children's Hospital for the donation of a newly WiFi-enabled Starlight Fun Center for young patients.

Attending the event were MLB Goodwill Ambassador Vera Clemente, wife of the late Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente; Tom Brasuell, MLB vice president of community affairs; Eric McKenzie, Padres vice president of ticket sales; Carol Damon-Scherer, vice president of corporate and community development at Rady Children's; Christopher de Haan, Starlight Foundation senior director of global public relations; and a slew of Major League mascots, including the Padres' omnipresent Friar.

"It's not a lot of fun to be in the hospital sometimes, especially over the holidays or during the summer, or perhaps when you're expecting to be at a birthday party," said Damon-Scherer. "So we're always looking for diversionary activities to take our kids' minds off of feeling under the weather or recovering from a surgery. We're able to do that with Fun Centers like those provided by Starlight. They really just ... allow kids to be kids. That's our goal every day."

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"The Padres are proud to be active participants in the community, and especially our continued commitment and relationship with Rady Children's Hospital," McKenzie said. "I say 'relationship,' because we truly feel that the kids and the families at the hospital bring as much joy and happiness to us as we bring to them. The families that we get to work with are so grateful, inspirational and engaging with our players and us, and really, it should be the other way around."

MLB and the All-Star host clubs have donated more than 75 of these mobile Starlight Fun Centers at their jewel events. As Brasuell told the attending young patients and their families, it is an effort to "give a little bit of distraction, help ease the pain a little bit and pass the time a little bit quicker in a hospital. It's part of what we do in baseball with our teams like the Padres, who are committed to giving back."

Rady Children's in San Diego is a nonprofit, 520-bed pediatric-care facility dedicated to excellence in care, research and teaching; it is the only hospital in the area dedicated exclusively to pediatric health care and the region's only designated pediatric trauma center.

In case you're wondering whether these Fun Centers continue to upgrade the technology after all the donations at every All-Star Week and World Series for the past decade, de Haan said this particular center is version 5.0, and added that Starlight's quarter-century partnership with Nintendo allows the facility to be updated as that company updates its own gaming systems.

This version, which came out last year, is WiFi-enabled for the first time, so young patients can play games with their friends and family who are somewhere else, thus greatly increasing the enjoyment and usage. In addition to playing familiar games that kids love, they can stream Netflix and watch documentaries ... and version 6.0 is due out in 2017.

"Many of these kids are from low-income families that don't always have access to the kinds of high-quality entertainment systems that some other families do," de Haan said. "So to be able to come into a facility, provide this kind of technology and gaming system to kids, at a time when they really need it most in their lives, is an incredible experience."

The 87th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB.com, MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.