Steve and Carolyn Coburn, co-owners of California Chrome, winner of the 2014 Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, received a surprise delivery while in New York preparing for the third big race of the season: the Belmont.
Excited by watching a racehorse born in their very own community rise to such fame, patients at Children’s Hospital Central California drew pictures of California Chrome and wrote letters of encouragement to spur him on at the Belmont.
“They found us at our hotel in New York,” said Steve of the letters and drawings. “The staff delivered them right up to our room.”
“It was so special to us,” said Carolyn.
Moved by the patients’ support of their horse, the Coburns wanted to give back, so they made a special trip to Children’s Hospital to deliver gifts and smiles.
The couple visited the Hospital’s oncology and hematology unit, Craycroft, where many patients are immunocompromised and unable to leave their rooms.
Carolyn handed out bracelets while Steve made sure everyone in the family received a button and a sticker, each with the California Chrome logo.
“How many brothers and sisters do you have?” he asked upon entering the first room. “I want everyone to get a button.” The patient’s little sister sat with him on his bed and reached for hers. “With this button, you’re an official Chromie,” he said. The Coburns refer to fans of California Chrome as “Chromies.”
“Hi, young lady,” said Steve, entering the next patient room. “We’re co-owners of California Chrome.”
“She loves horses,” said the patient’s mother.
“You sent us letters and we wanted to come by to say hi and thank you,” said Steve, handing the patient a button. “You’re a Chromie now.”
In addition to handing out individual gifts, the Coburns presented an autographed collage of photos featuring the winning racehorse. They also brought a DVD.
“It shows California Chrome from when he was an itty-bitty baby all the way growing up to what he’s doing now with his races,” said Steve to the horse-loving patient.
“It’s just wonderful,” said Carolyn of the DVD. “Every time I watch it I cry.”
One patient who had not seen the races was especially inquisitive about California Chrome when the Coburns arrived at her door. She learned the horse is a 3-year-old and not quite full grown.
“He has a big heart and loves to run,” said Steve in response to her many questions. “He’s very fast and very, very pretty.”
“He looks like a penny,” said Carolyn. “A copper-colored penny.”
After visiting with patients on Craycroft, the Coburns headed to the Robert M. Shapazian Child Life Center to deliver gifts to patients in the playroom, where another surprise awaited them.
“The children are expecting you,” said Rose Woytek, child life assistant, Children’s Hospital. “They’ve been busy drawing pictures for you.”
Steve was visibly moved as a volunteer presented several drawings. “It’s pretty neat these kids did this for us,” he said. “We’re going to have to build another room on the house so we can hang all these pictures on the walls.”
The Coburns left with a promise that they would try to schedule another visit to Children’s Hospital during their next trip to Central California.