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Visit by the Olympiacos F.C. to the Children's Oncology Unit

On Monday 3 January 2011, a very pleasant surprise awaited the roughly 100 children who are presently undergoing treatment at the “Marianna V. Vardinoyannis-ELPIDA” children’s Oncology Unit.  They were visited by a delegation of players from the Olympiacos F.C. accompanied by the team’s President Mr. Evangelos Marinakis and their coach Mr. Ernesto Valverde.

The President of the “ELPIDA” Association of Friends of Children with Cancer, Mrs. Marianna V. Vardinoyannis and the Administrative Director of the “Aghia Sophia” Children’s Hospital Dr. Emmanouil Papasavvas were there to greet them and show them around the wards where they stayed for a long time chatting with the children, signing autographs and giving them gifts that included balls, jerseys and caps which were enthusiastically received by the young patients.

The team delegation was made up of Antonios Nikopolidis, Raúl Sanfelix Bravo, Erik Olof Mellberg, Ioannis Papadopoulos, François Modesto, Balazs Megyeri, Kevin Mirallas, Ioannis Potouridis, Ariel Ibagaza and Krisztián Németh.  Also present were Messrs. Dourekas and Mitropoulos, the F.C.’s 4th vice-president Mr. Ioannis Moralis and its Managing Director Mr. Ioannis Vrentzos.

Mr. Marinakis congratulated Mrs. Vardinoyannis on the work she has been doing and assured her that the Olympiacos F.C. players are at her side to support the efforts of “ELPIDA” while at the same time he presented a donation amounting to €20,000 for this purpose, saying characteristically: “I would like to thank you, Mrs. Vardinoyannis, for all you have done for these children.  It is something that the country really needs.  Apart from soccer, Olympiacos is always close to initiatives like these.  Here there are no team colors.  The children and our country come first.”

Mrs. Vardinoyannis thanked him and congratulated the players for the extraordinary example of social awareness they have demonstrated with this visit of theirs, saying: “Your presence here is a great pleasure and honor for all of us.  It shows your compassion for the children who are fighting for their lives in these units.  I would like to thank you for coming here.  Your presence raises our spirits and gives us the strength to continue with the difficult task we have undertaken.  The initiative taken by the president of the Olympiacos F.C. Mr. Vangelis Marinakis, who is among us, demonstrates his sensitivity, ethos, social solidarity and his contribution.  His initiative means a lot to me in these difficult days our country is going through.”

Speaking on behalf of the players, the team’s captain, Antonios Nikopolidis, said: “The world of athletics is and must be close to such issues.  We came here to alleviate the loneliness that these children may be feeling.   Also, to give strength to the parents of these children who are climbing up their own Golgotha.  I would like to wish the children health, strength and a speedy return to their homes.  Today we were taught a life lesson.  We realized that a struggle for life is being waged.  Our own problems are insignificant…”  “The hospital is outstanding.  It is a life’s work that was missing.  The people who work here are worthy of congratulations and we should all applaud and support such efforts.”

Before they left the visitors who gave such joy to the young patients did not forget to decorate with their own wishes the Christmas “Wishing Tree” that towers at the entrance to the hospital.