More than just baseball – the Nationals Dream Foundation

The Hot Stove season is long and there are only so many what if stories we can come up with during the winter. We thought that an occasional story about things the Nationals do off the field might be of interest to Nationals fans. Most of us know about honoring military folks at every game. And a lot of us have heard that the Nationals have created the Dream Foundation, but very few of us know much about the activities it is involved with. I first heard of the Dream Foundation when my wife (also a Nats fan) came home from work one-day after she had learned that the Dream Foundation had decided that one of their first charitable initiatives was going to be to help make the Diabetes Care Complex (DCC) at Children’s National Health System a reality. There has been a diabetes program for many years, but with no dedicated space.  The Dream Foundation was the lead donor to build clinical and education space specifically for the diabetes program at Children’s which provides education and ongoing care for approximately 1800 children in the DC Metro area.

We have plans for a future story, from the perspective of Dr. Fran Cogen who was involved in the initial discussions with the Nationals.

Lots of players and coaches have visited the Center and have made an impression on the children who are patients, like the 9 year-old little girl who was pumped up that she beat Steven Souza (a real baseball player in her words) at a Wii baseball game.

This first story is about a visit that Jayson Werth made in February of this year. My wife was meeting with a patient in one of the training rooms when Jayson stopped by and spent about 10 minutes chatting with her and the patient.

He was there for a gluten free foods/cooking session for kids with celiac and their families (another autoimmune disease that many kids with diabetes also have). If you don’t know, if you have celiac disease a gluten free diet is a must. Celiac is not part of the diabetes program, but the fully functional demo kitchen that was built as part of the Diabetes Care Complex with the support of the Dream Foundation (and other donors) is really the only location in the hospital available for such teaching. Given the connection between these two diseases, sharing facilities is an natural fit.

John Snyder, MD, Chief of the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition at Children’s National said this about Jayson’s visit:

“In February, Jayson spent a wonderful day with the Celiac Disease Program at Children’s National Health System. He joined a gluten-free cooking class in which he helped kids and their families make macaroni and cheese, chocolate cake and cookies. He also handed out toasters and gluten-free goodie bags to newly-diagnosed patients to help them learn the important lesson of preventing cross-contamination. We are grateful for the support that Jayson and his wife, Julia, provide to children in our area.”

We did submit this article to the appropriate folks at Children’s National for review (they requested some very minor changes). We did not discuss this story with the Nationals or the Dream Foundation (we understand that the staff at Children’s National did discuss this story with the Nationals).

Jayson didn’t ask us to write this piece. We all know he is a free spirit who apparently likes to do his own thing and apparently also to fly below the radar and has never looked for NatsTown to acknowledge that he’s a good citizen of the DC area.  That’s right, Jayson lives year ’round in McLean with his wife Julia and their 2 sons.  Community is important to Jayson, but don’t expect you know even a fraction of what Jayson does for his community. We were happy to bring you a tiny glimpse based on some personal experiences with him.


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