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Bradenton Herald: “Conquistadors … bring holiday cheer to sick children”


BRADENTON — Conquistadors and a manatee brought holiday cheer and presents Friday to sick children at Manatee Memorial Hospital.

Maverick the Manatee, State College of Florida’s mascot, and the DeSoto Crewe stopped by the fourth-floor pediatric unit, to spread holiday cheer. It’s the first year SCF, which has graduated a number of the nurses at the hospital, delivered gifts and the sixth year the DeSoto Crewe has been involved. The crewe works with Overcome Birth Defects, a local nonprofit, to deliver the gifts.

1219_BRLO_GIFTS (4)“Every year I get emotional and I just want to cry,” said Christina Sisti, the organization’s founder [and wife of former Conquistador Historical Foundation chair, Ron Hernden]. “I’m able to give back, to be able to help a child, even if it’s just a teddy bear.”

Six-year-old Reign Ford, a Bradenton resident, grabbed an Elsa doll, from the Disney hit movie, “Frozen,” out from under the tree in the pediatric unit. When Maverick the Mascot gave her a little stuffed manatee as well, she extended Elsa’s doll arms out so she could hold the manatee and shyly thanked Maverick.

The mascot, whose identity is kept secret, wanted to cheer children who are struggling in the hospital during the holiday season.

C.J. Parsley, a Bradenton resident, was able to play peek-a-boo with Maverick. C.J. was
presented with a little manatee and a stuffed animal from the DeSoto princesses, who accompanied the conquistadors. He was celebrating his first birthday in the hospital Friday, said his parents, Casey Owens and Chris Parsley.

Saniyah Wilkerson, 2, whose mother was a patient, was able to meet the DeSoto princesses, have her photos taken and pick out a toy as well.

In addition to visiting the children at Manatee Memorial, Maverick the Manatee also visited Sarasota Memorial Hospital. Overcome Birth Defects also brings gifts to children at Sarasota Memorial Hospital and Easter Seals. The children are always delighted to have a toy or some small gift to hold during treatment, Sisti said.

“It really does work,” Sisti said.

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Bay News 9: “Children at Manatee hospital get special visit for Christmas”

By Summer Smith, Reporter


Children at Manatee Memorial Hospital in Bradenton got an early Christmas present Friday.  Conquistadors from the Hernando De Soto Historical Society and Maverick the Manatee from State College of Florida brought holiday cheer to the sick children there.

The group handed out presents at the pediatric unit.

They said they do it to make sure children know they are not alone during the holidays.

“To know now I’m able to give back and to be able help a child, even giving them a teddy bear, just to hold something, to make them feel better is incredible,” said Christina Sisti, founder of Overcome Birth Defects.

Sisti helped organize the Desoto crew coming to the hospital.

In addition to visiting children at Manatee Memorial, the group also visited children at Sarasota Memorial and Easter Seals.

Bradenton Herald: “De Soto Historical Society working with Palmetto on 2016 regatta,” April 14, 2015