Several players including Katie Smith, Kara Braxton and Alexis Hornbuckle strapped on kneepads and got down and dirty to plant flowers with children in the Ronald McDonald House’s courtyard, while All-Star forward Cheryl Ford led a group of teammates and kids that painted stones for the courtyard’s walkway.
After an hour or so of hard work, the families and players lined up for burgers and hot dogs from “Laimbeer’s Grill,” where head coach Bill Laimbeer and his assistants, Rick Mahorn and Cheryl Reeve, showed off their cooking skills.
The stones and flowers were just two elements of the Shock’s landscaping renovation of the courtyard, which lies in the shadow of Children’s Hospital of Michigan, where the families at the Ronald McDonald House each have a sick child receiving treatment. The house serves as a place for families to stay and rest when they are not visiting their child at the hospital. The picnic was one several functions league-wide as part of WNBA Cares “Tip-Off Week.”
Ford, the Shock captain, surprised Jennifer Litomisky, executive director at the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit, by presenting her with a plaque for her inspirational work in the community. Litomisky and her dedicated staff of volunteers provide “a home away from home” for 1,200 families of seriously ill children each year. Litomisky was very appreciative of the Shock’s efforts on their behalf. “This is the most fabulous place,” she said of the house. “And you’ve all helped make it look beautiful.”
Though the picnic was a relatively brief event, the new landscaping - and hopefully a few smiles - should provide a more lasting reminder of the Shock’s impact on the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit.