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Arizona Diamondbacks infielder Willie Bloomquist visits families in hospital

PHOENIX -- Families in the Nursery Intensive Care Unit at Phoenix St. Joseph's Hospital got a special visitor on Friday.

Arizona Diamondbacks infielder Willie Bloomquist and his wife Lisa stopped by to offer words of encouragement.

Bloomquist's visit is part of the Cheers for Kids program sponsored by AT&T, a program raises money and awareness for the March of Dimes.

Among the people he visited were Ashley and Preston Gutherie and their infant daughter Lilly, who is in the NICU.

Lilly was born premature, in the 28th week of pregnancy, over Mother's Day weekend. Ashley said she and Preston were visiting from Utah when they had the surprise.

"My water broke right before I left for the airport," she said. "In we came, and we've been here ever since."

Doctors said Lilly should be able to go home in August.

The Bloomquists can relate to the Gutheries. Their daughter was born premature last year.

Willie Bloomquist said that when a child is born premature, "You kind of feel helpless. There's not a lot that you can do, but just hope and put your babies in the hands of the doctors and organizations that are able to take care of them. The best thing we can do as dads is just try to be there for support and try to love on our kids."

Bloomquist said there is support for parents of premature babies.

"You just deal with it as it comes. There's no handbook for it, but fortunately, with good organizations like the March of Dimes, who have done tons of research to help people deal with things like this, it's making it a lot easier for us."

Bloomquist's daughter, and his wife Lisa, are both doing fine.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I am married to my wife Rene', who is a librarian in the Washington school district. During free time, I may be found playing basketball in the driveway with my son, Devin. He's also keeping me busy with school, Little League, and playing in chess tournaments around the Valley.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: Doug Oldham gospel concert in the 1970s at the old East High School in Phoenix.

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Northern Hills Community Church in Phoenix. We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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