Nationals Visit – A Home Run with Inn Families

Nationals player at HOPE sculpture

Earlier this week, members of the Washington Nationals made a morning visit to The Children’s Inn at NIH to continue the team’s longstanding partnership with The Inn. Outfielder Lane Thomas and former player and current broadcaster Kevin Frandsen met families, toured the facility, and participated in a baseball-themed activity with residents. The visit created lasting memories for some of their biggest fans and continued a meaningful relationship between the Nationals and The Inn that stretches back over a decade.

Their visit began with a walk up the hill to the NIH Clinical Center where the group toured a pediatric wing and met with families undergoing treatment. One young fan was very prepared. Trenton came to his treatment wearing a Lane Thomas shirt and carrying a ball he caught at Nationals Park the night before. Thomas signed the shirt and the ball and talked baseball with Trenton for a few minutes, providing a welcome break from the Clinical Center’s routine. Another patient, Ellis, had painted a picture for Thomas that she proudly presented to him when he came to her room. Thomas continued to pose for pictures, sign autographs, and chat with children, parents, nurses, and doctors as the group made their way around the wing before returning to The Inn to see families there for the second half of their visit.

Washington Nationals player visits

Trenton and Thomas with their matching uniforms

At The Inn, Volunteer Engagement Manager Meghan Smith took Thomas, his wife Chase, and Frandsen on a tour of The Inn. Making their first visit, the trio was impressed with the variety of recreational and reflection spaces available for the children, teens, young adults, and families on-site. They also toured the newly-refurbished playground and posed for pictures by the HOPE sculpture which is at the heart of the outdoor space. Finally, the group wound its way into the community kitchen area, where The Inn’s programming team was ready with a baseball-themed activity and lots of young baseball fans ready to meet the Nationals.

Sitting at a table alongside the kids, the Thomases and Frandsen helped put together baseball gloves with a ball that opened and allowed a space to write an inspirational message. They swapped completed projects with some of the participants and again took the time to speak to each child individually, pose for pictures, and sign autographs. They were also excited to meet Zilly, The Inn’s therapy dog. The Nationals’ party completed their visit with a group photo in front of a hand-made sign that Inn residents had put together to welcome them to The Inn.

Washington Nationals visit with kids

“Having the Nationals here was an amazing treat for our families,” said Smith. “Lane and Kevin made a lasting impression with the kids and were incredibly generous with their time and energy even though it was a game day. That meant a lot to us, and we are thrilled to continue our partnership with the Nationals organization and welcome them back to The Inn.”

The visit was the first for Nationals players to The Inn since 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the partnership between the ballclub and The Inn has deep roots. The Nats are in their 11th season participating in the Ks for Kids program sponsored by Washington Area Toyota Dealers, with donations made to The Inn for each strikeout thrown by a Nationals pitcher all season long.

Thomas is in his fifth season in Major League Baseball and third with the Nationals. Frandsen played nine seasons with four teams, including the Nationals in 2014, and now serves as a color analyst for Nationals games on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network. He is the founder and a member of the Board of Directors of the 19 For Life Foundation, started in honor of his brother DJ who passed away in 2004 of complications from Wilms’ tumor, a form of recurring kidney cancer.