What does an unforgettable weekend sound like?
It’s the crack of a bat, a splash into the pool, the thwack of a golf ball that arcs over the green.
Then add the voices of young athletes – more than 100 kids and teens who gathered this weekend for CSL Behring’s 2019 Gettin’ In the Game Junior National Championship in Arizona. Bonded by what they share – all the participants have a bleeding disorder, such as hemophilia or von Willebrand Disease – the athletes talked together at the breakfast table, asked thoughtful questions at Q&A sessions with older patient-athletes and cheered each other on while they competed in baseball, swimming and golf.
CSL CEO Paul Perreault calls the annual gathering, in its 18th year, his favorite event of the year. Perreault has long served as a caddy to a young golfer during the competition.
“When we talk about patient focus, it means consistently engaging with and listening to patients so we can understand their challenges and deliver on our promise to them,” he said. “This event gives us that opportunity to listen to and ultimately work with patients, not just for them.”
All bleeding disorder chapters in the United States are invited to nominate two participants, ages 7-18, to attend. The weekend of education and friendly competition emphasizes living a healthy lifestyle that includes physical activity. A bleeding disorder, like hemophilia, means a person’s blood does not clot properly. With proper treatment, and their doctor’s OK, patients can enjoy certain sports and be physically active.
At the Gettin’ In the Game event, the kids receive coaching from skilled adult athletes – many of whom also have bleeding disorders. CSL Behring staff serve as volunteers and get a chance to meet kids and families to better understand their challenges. Mark Ridge, Vice President of Global Business Operations, said the experience gives him perspective on his work.
“Spending time with patients and their families brings home the important responsibility we have to continue to deliver new and innovative life-changing solutions,” Ridge said. “So, when a parent asks ‘What else is coming?’ or ‘What’s next?’ I can tell you that it provides a sense of urgency and purpose.”
Read Ridge’s LinkedIn post to learn more about his volunteer experience.