Famous photographer brings joy to hospitalized kids

WASHINGTON — If you have watched Sesame Street over the years, you have most likely have seen William Wegman’s Weimaraner dogs.

The grey short-haired pointers are usually donning human clothes with actors lending their arms and hands to complete the appearance.

At Medstar Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, William “Bill” Wegman was using his love of his dogs, his works and his new children’s book “Flo & Wendell Explore” to bring a smile to children hospitalized as they battle cancer and other illnesses.

Wegman says he always enjoys reading to kids, but “it makes me feel especially good to come down and do it here though for obvious reasons.”

Dr. Aziza Shad, chief of pediatric hematology-oncology, is a fan of Wegman and said she is glad he choose to come to D.C. She says having special meet-and-greets help distract patients “from what their illness is or why they’re in the clinic.”

Wegman says one of the best things about children is that if a dog in one of his works is dressed as and astronaut or a dancer, children will go with the fantasy. Adults, on the other hand, begin asking how he got the dogs to pose for the picture.

Charlotte Hay, a 17-year-old from Arlington, is battling Leukemia. She says events like there are a great way “to get away and have a little fun.”

Not all the children are fighting cancer. Erica Kalley, of Pomfret, Maryland, has a young son hospitalized and recovering from asthma. She says this event is great for kids who are normally stuck in a room.

“Literally sitting in a room which is almost like a prison cell, seeing the same people day in day out,” Kalley said.

Not all in attendance were children either. Edgar Mutta, 23, is from Tanzania. After months in the D.C. area his Leukemia has gone into remission and he will soon head home. He says throughout his time in the hospital, these events are great for a person’s mind because they “take the death out, we bring back hope.”

Wegman also brought several of his works, which the hospital will display for a time at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Clinic.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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