UNC men’s basketball star Armando Bacot and UNC Children’s partner organization Dunkin’ joined forces recently to bring smiles to the faces of patients at the N.C. Children’s Hospital in Chapel Hill.
Upon arrival, Bacot’s first stop was the Reelin’ for Research Pediatric Hematology Oncology Clinic, where he met up with representatives from Dunkin’, including their mascot Sprinkles.
Children were brought into the playroom to decorate donuts alongside Armando, who ate his first one soon after completion and quickly went to work on a second, which he completely covered in frosting and Carolina Blue sprinkles—all sides and surfaces. When asked what he was going to call his fully frosted donut creation, Armando thought for a moment and replied, “Beat Duke.”
Everyone in the room—patients, parents, and friends from UNC Children’s and Dunkin’— agreed that “Beat Duke” was the perfect name, considering the UNC-Duke men’s basketball game that was coming up in a just a few days.
Children and their parents continued to stop by and decorated donuts, take pictures, and chat with Armando. Pediatric Oncologist Patrick Thompson, MD, even stopped by to show his heartfelt appreciation for Armando’s visit to the children and families.
Dr. Thompson became emotional as he expressed his gratitude, but the heroic physician also gently chided Bacot. He took one look at “Beat Duke” and said to the center, “Don’t quit your day job.”
After decorating donuts with children and taking pictures, Armando’s easy manner charmed the nursing staff, who crowded in excitedly and took his arm or flashed peace signs for selfies.
The next stop was “CH5,” as it is known to patients and staff, the fifth floor of the N.C. Children’s Hospital. This floor holds inpatient hematology oncology patients, many of whom have hospital stays of weeks or months.
Armando and Sprinkles stopped by many rooms, brightening the faces of patients, parents, and, of course, nursing staff.
Armando has made multiple visits to UNC Children’s over the past couple years. Every time, he makes a huge impact. Days can get long, and procedures can be scary at the children’s hopsital. Armando brings levity, curiosity, and a little bit of star struck awe whenever he comes.
According to him, he’s just giving back.
“These people are all so strong,” Bacot said. “To be able to give back to them and see a smile on their face—it means the world.”
The 6’11 center exited UNC Children’s the same way he entered: with an easy stride. Much like his skills on the basketball court, brightening the day of patients, families and staff at UNC Children’s came naturally.
UNC plays Duke Saturday night at 6:30 p.m.