Despite a pending move to that city that shall remain unmentioned, Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr promises his heart will stay with Valley Children’s Hospital.
Carr was in Modesto to help break ground on the new $30 million Valley Children’s Pelandale Specialty Care Center Saturday morning. The football star has been an avid supporter of the pediatric healthcare network based out of Madera. Carr and his wife, Heather, attended the private event to celebrate the start of construction at the six-acre site on Pelandale Avenue between Sisk and Dale roads.
“This is an exciting thing for many reasons. I just want to say thank you so much to the city of Modesto for being open to this. ... Thank you for letting me be a part of, really, family,” Carr said in front of a crowd of hospital staff, patients, executives and donors. “My wife and I, we know first-hand how much a children’s hospital means.”
When the Carrs’ first son, Dallas, was born in 2013 he was diagnosed with a life-threatening intestinal condition. He was treated at Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera, while Carr was still the quarterback for Fresno State. The Bakersfield native said seeing the care given to his son, as well as the other families with children, prompted him to become an advocate and active supporter of the hospital. Last summer he launched DC4KIDS, a campaign to help fund critical needs for Valley Children’s.
“As many gifts as God has bestowed to Derek Carr on the field, it pales in comparison to his heart,” said Valley Children’s Healthcare President and CEO Todd Suntrapak.
The new Pediatric Specialty Care Center in Modesto will eventually replace the existing, smaller McHenry Specialty Care Center that was opened in 2007. They’ve had an outpatient care center in the city since 2002. The McHenry center had 9,900 outpatient visits last year. Suntrapak said he expects the new Pelandale center to have some 27,500 visits annually.
The slated 40,000-square-foot Modesto facility also will help families in the region who need specialty care not available at the current site. Suntrapak said last year some 8,100 patients from the Modesto-area traveled to the Madera hospital. He said 80 percent of those children will now be able to be treated locally instead.
The specialty center will include pediatric care for cardiology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, neurology, orthopedics, surgery, pulmonology, urology and more. It will employ an addition 30 staff and is expected to open in late 2018.
“It is so important for me to know we are helping other families who are going through the same thing my wife and I were. It’s such a hard time, but Valley Children’s made it so easy,” Carr said. “Now the people of Modesto don’t have to travel far, they can just come right down the street. They don’t have to worry about getting a hotel or driving 100 miles, just like we didn’t have to.”
After the ceremony Carr talked a little football, saying he felt great and “100 percent” since recovering from a broken fibula suffered during a Christmas Eve game last year. The injury ended his season and kept him out of the playoffs.
“I’ve done everything, I’ve even let Heather and my boys tackle me to make sure it’s good. So we’ll be good. We’re ready to rock,” Carr said.
He said rehab has been “tough” because he has never missed a game before. But he said he is coming back “better” and grown as a person from the setback. He is also excited about the team’s new acquisitions, including running back Marshawn Lynch, and this season’s prospects.
“Our No. 1 goal is to win the division and our second goal is to win the Super Bowl. Anything short of that is a disappointment to us,” he said.
While the Raiders are slated to stay in Oakland for the next two seasons before moving to their new home in Las Vegas, Carr said he will never leave behind his dedication to Valley Children’s. This is also his second trip to Modesto this year. In March he appeared at Modesto Centre Plaza with his brother, David Carr, for a Chalk Talk football program.
“Absolutely, there’s no doubt (I’ll be back at Valley Children’s). It’s family and I don’t just give up on family. I’m a very loyal person,” he said. “And home is where your heart is and so my heart is there. So I’ll definitely be back.”