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Monday, October 29, 2007

Phillies brighten kids' day with party

Madson celebrates Halloween with young cancer patients

PHILADELPHIA -- Ryan Madson cavorted with dragons, super heroes, pirates and fairies on Sunday at the Embassy Suites Hotel.
The Phillies reliever, along with hitting coach Milt Thompson, spent the afternoon signing autographs and taking pictures at the Phillies' 15th annual Halloween party for the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

"This is fun," Madson said. "It's great to put a smile on these kids' faces. It's worth taking time out and doing it. It's cool to take their mind off things for a couple of minutes."

More than 200 children joined the Phillie Phanatic, Madson, Thompson, former Phillies infielder Kevin Jordan and broadcaster Scott Franzke at the event. The team provided gift bags with bobblehead dolls, Phanatic figurines and Junior Phillies backpacks for the children at the party. Also strolling the grounds were magicians, jugglers, clowns and a man on stilts who wasn't much taller than the lanky Madson.

"The stilt-walker had an airplane flying around him," Madson said. "That was pretty cool. I thought we were at the airport."

The Phillies have enjoyed a long-standing relationship with Children's Hospital. Since 1993, several players, including John Kruk, Mickey Morandini and Mike Lieberthal, have sponsored ticket programs for child cancer patients being treated at the hospital. This year, Chase Utley began his "Chase's Champs" program, in which he purchased more than $20,000 in tickets for CHOP and St. Christopher's Hospital.

Madson won't be in the Delaware Valley area much longer, as he and his family are relocating to Southern California, near where he grew up. In late December, he said he will likely begin throwing to prepare for the 2008 season.

The right-hander suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in late August. He would have been able to pitch in the National League Championship Series, but the Phillies lost to the Rockies in the NL Division Series.

Madson hasn't watched much of the postseason, preferring to watch his three kids, including his 10-month-old twins.

"I've probably watched a total of an inning and a half, just random outs," Madson said.

Still, knowing the shoulder feels 100 percent gives him peace of mind.

"That's another reason why we stayed on [the throwing program]," Madson said. "I wasn't going to quit until I was 100 percent. I'm past the injury."


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