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Hero Hear Cheer Around 30 years ago, Miami Children’s Hospital miraculously saved radio talk show host Orlando Alzugaray’s hearing. Now, it’s his turn to give back. T e x t by Jacquely n B enso n I t started with a frightened child. “When I was 8, I almost lost my hearing,” Orlando Alzugaray recalls. The 640 AM Sports talk host needed an operation, and was brought to Miami Children’s Hospital. It should have been a terrifying ordeal, but instead the 2-week stay became something profoundly positive, thanks to the hospital’s outstanding staff. “The doctors, nurses and facilities provided more smiles than sadness during that difficult time,” he says. 54 In the end, the experience made an impact. A decade ago, Alzugaray decided to try to give back by starting the Big O Toy Drive, an effort to benefit Miami Children’s Hospital. With the help of some generous sponsors, the sports host and his listeners collect toys for the hospital’s young patients. “These toys provide a smile and an emotional lift not only during the holidays, but all year long,” he says. For Alzugaray, it all comes back to a piece of personal insight: “You get more out of giving than you do from receiving,” he asserts. “I feel very strongly about this. Well over 30 years ago, Miami Children’s Hospital saved my hearing, giving me the great fortune to do what I love to do everyday — talk sports!” Alzugaray’s toy drive is one of several that help support the work of Miami Children’s Hospital Foundation. New, unwrapped toys are collected and given to patients and family members, from newborns through age 21. The toys are delivered both during the holiday season and throughout the year — it’s not just patients staying in December who get to enjoy them. The gifts help to celebrate major events in a child’s treatment — from finally going home after a long stay to completing a chemotherapy cycle. Alzugaray hopes to make his contribution bigger each year. “Miami Children’s Hospital is growing, with facilities all over South Florida. That means more kids, which means we need more toys,” he points out. This year, he’s partnered with Walmart to help achieve that end. All 24 locations in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, as well as 4 locations in Palm Beach, will be accepting donations for the drive. Those who wish to make a contribution can purchase a toy and drop it off right in the store. “Our goal is to make every child smile,” he says.