12/22/10 1:30 PM EST
Guillen Foundation brings joy to kids with cancer
By Billy Russo / Special to MLB.com
For the past 12 years, that has been and continues to be the mission that the Ozzie Guillen Foundation has carried out in Venezuela, under the leadership of the White Sox skipper and his wife, Ibis.
"It's something we've done with a lot of effort and pride to improve the lives of these kids, who are true warriors," said Guillen during a toy giveaway for the children at the J.M. de los Rios hospital, which treats patients stricken by cancer.
Every December, while he vacations in Venezuela, Guillen, through his foundation and in partnership with the Venezuelan Association of Parents of Children with Cancer, organizes a holiday party to bring joy to the kids who suffer from that disease.
"It's very important to be able to count on the help of Oswaldo and Ibis, because the kids see him as an idol and during the day they can spend time with him. The donation of gifts is a great help for low-income families and is an unexpected thrill for the kids, who really need it," said Rosa de Briceno, the president of the foundation, who is in charge of distributing the resources that the Ozzie Guillen Foundation has provided to improve assistance centers.
This year, Guillen distributed more than 300 gifts with the support of the White Sox organization.
"The White Sox have started to get involved with this cause, and that's very important, because it is increasingly difficult to get these initiatives off the ground since the number of sick children continues to rise," said Guillen.
He added, "The most important thing is seeing these kids smile and giving them a message of hope that they should hold on tight, because you always have to be optimistic and never let anything defeat you."
Beyond the desire to help the less fortunate, what has propelled the foundation during the past 12 years has been Guillen's desire to return the support his country has given him throughout his career.
"It's a way to give my country a part of my best self," he said.
Ibis Guillen offered other motivating factors that underscore the value and importance of the foundation's work.
"The spark that guides and motivates us to do this are the parents of the kids who have cancer, because they put great effort into keeping their kids' chins up and give them the best of themselves," she said. "The parents are also afflicted by this disease and they are perhaps the ones who suffer the most and need the most support."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.