By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Kiona Miller, Fleet Week New York Public Affairs
NEW YORK (NNS) -- Navy Band Northeast and Sailors assigned to Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Barry (DDG 52) visited patients in the Pediatrics Department of Staten Island University Hospital during a community relations event as part of Fleet Week New York, May 22.
The hospital invites service members each year to visit patients and meet the staff while visiting New York City during Fleet Week.
"I consider you guy's heroes ... you all are doing a wonderful thing and I am filled with pride," said Valerie Alestra, a Child Life Specialist at the hospital. "I want to bring that same feeling to the hospital for our children."
During the visit, the band performed a special concert of contemporary jazz music as patients looked on with a front row seat. Afterward, Sailors personally visited each patient and shared their experiences of life in the Navy.
"This is my second time coming here," said Musician 3rd Class Stuart Anello, assigned to Navy Band Northeast. "(The kids) really like music and some of them probably haven't seen live music yet, so it's a nice thing to do. Some of the children can't get out of the rooms, so we were loud enough today so they could hear (us)."
The purpose of the event was not to just bring cheer to children located in the Pediatrics Department, but to also assist with the department's mission which is to provide a stress-free environment to all children.
"It's a special event and you don't do this every day," said Gunner's Mate 1st Class Konon Gill, assigned to the USS Barry. "You kind of have to be selfless. If I can brighten someone's day, it will make it much better for me knowing that I touched somebody's life."
The event hit close to home for some Sailors as many are locals to New York. Gunner's Mate 3rd Class Seth Sorrentini, a native of Queens who is assigned to the USS Barry, said he enjoyed the opportunity to serve again in his community.
"I helped build a hospital in Queens doing construction, and I wanted to do something bigger to help the world and make everyone happy," he explained. "I just recently had a daughter, so I know it is hard (for these patients) to go in out of the hospital. I always like to brighten up their day and I thought I would do the same with this hospital."
Musician 3rd Class James Dissenger, a native of Staten Island, also felt humbled to participate in the event in his hometown.
"It's a privilege to help contribute and brighten up the kid's day," he said.
Fleet Week New York, now in its 27th year, is the city's time-honored celebration of the sea services. It is an unparalleled opportunity for the citizens of New York and the surrounding tri-state area to meet Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, as well as witness firsthand the latest capabilities of today's maritime services. The weeklong celebration has been held nearly every year since 1984.