What began as a passionate exchange of ideas seven years ago became a reality last month with the grand opening of the new Washington Nationals Diabetes Care Complex at Children’s National Medical Center.
The opening of the facility marked the first of many victories for the team’s charitable arm, the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation, which was established in part to encourage fans to channel their passion for the game of baseball into making a difference in the community.
The Dream Foundation’s first ambitious project stemmed from a conversation between Dr. Fran Cogen of Children’s National Medical Center and Dream Foundation Chair Marla Lerner Tanenbaum when the Lerner family first acquired the team in 2006. It focused on bringing a world class, state-of-the-art diabetes treatment and research center to the District.
Tanenbaum conveyed just how much the project meant to her family, the Nationals, and the Dream Foundation in her speech at the facility’s grand opening on June 5th.
“The Dream Foundation was originally created to develop and support programs that could positively change the lives of people in our community,” Tanenbaum said. “The Washington Nationals Diabetes Care Complex is an example of that, of baseball bringing out the best in people.”
In addition to the team’s principal owners and several front office executives, Nationals Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations & General Manager Mike Rizzo, as well as Nationals players Ross Detwiler, Gio Gonzalez, Adam LaRoche, Ryan Mattheus, Stephen Strasburg, and Chad Tracy were all on hand to commemorate the occasion, which also included a special appearance from Screech.
As Dr. Cogen said in her address to the standing room-only crowd on hand for the event, “Visions can be helpful, but without people to support you, they remain visions.”
The complex will provide a place where children can go for treatment for and education about diabetes. It also includes a family reception area, resource and media center, as well as a playroom for young patients and their siblings. It even features a galley kitchen and exercise room to help emphasize nutritional education and physical education, two key components in fighting diabetes.
“It’s remarkable to see the kids walk through the door,” said Tanenbaum, when reflecting on the mission of the center to help find a cure for the disease. “Hopefully, though, one day, they won’t have to use it at all.”
Until then, the doors will be open at the Washington Nationals Diabetes Care Complex for the children of the Capital Region.