Akron Children's has a special connection for Kosta Koufos

2016-05-01 09:32:16 by Holly Pupino, Media Relations Specialist, as posted on the inside.akronchildrens.org blog.

Akron Children's has a special connection for NBA player Kosta Koufos Kosta especially enjoyed hearing stories from staff who worked with his late father, including Mindy Aylward, Charlene Maxen, Sonia Mcdonough, and Pam Jones.

Kosta Koufos took time from the break in his NBA schedule to come home to Canton and spend a few hours visiting patients and staff at Akron Children's Hospital - a place that has special meaning for him.

As a young boy, Kosta often accompanied his late father, Dr. Alex Koufos, to work at Akron Children's, where he was a pediatric hematologist-oncologist from 1988 to 1998. Dr. Koufos, who was beloved by his patients and hospital staff, died of cancer in 1998.

Akron Children's has a special connection for NBA player Kosta Koufos Patient Zoey Kohler, with her sister, Raven, got a surprise visit with Kosta on her clinic appointment.

Kosta, 26, who attended GlenOak High School and played for Ohio State University, is now with the Sacramento Kings after playing with several other NBA teams.

Akron Children's has a special connection for NBA player Kosta Koufos 2-year-old Jack gladly accepted a sky-high arm lift from 7-ft. Kosta Koufos.

On his visit Friday, Kosta was interviewed by WKDD DJ Keith Kennedy during Akron Children's annual "Have a Heart, Do Your Part" Radiothon.

Dr. Jeff Hord, director of the Showers Family Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders, gave him a tour of the outpatient and inpatient areas of the center, as well as other areas of the hospital.

Kosta and his mother, Kathy, seemed to especially love meeting with staff who worked with Dr. Koufos and hearing their stories of him.

Along the way, Kosta was a big hit with patients - offering high-fives, autographs and words of encouragement. While walking through the older areas of the hospital, he often had to duck where the ceiling was not exactly designed for 7-ft tall NBA players.

"What you are all doing at Akron Children's is truly amazing, really heartwarming," Kosta said during his Radiothon interview. "The kids are so positive. They are the superstars. I should be asking them for their autographs."

Dr. Hord noted that Dr. Koufos was instrumental in establishing the foundation of a pediatric hematology-oncology program that today is nationally ranked.

"When Dr. Koufos was here, Akron Children's saw about 45 newly diagnosed pediatric cancer and hematology patients each year," Dr. Hord said. "Today, we average 90 to 92, mostly due to the much larger geographic area we serve, stretching east to Youngstown, south to Mansfield and west to Norwalk."

Dr. Koufos' memory also lives on via a pediatric hematology-oncology lecture series named after him and held each year at Akron Children's.

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