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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.