A 'Monster' friendship: MetroHealth volunteer and Prentiss Center resident bond over hockey
Dennis Kapral started volunteering in 1980 at MetroHealth's old nursing home on Franklin Avenue.
He’s been volunteering since the summer of 1980 when he was 27 years old. That makes him MetroHealth's longest-serving volunteer.
“I went to the Cuyahoga County Nursing Home on Franklin to tell my grandmother’s friend that she had died,” explains Dennis. While there, a woman mentioned the need for volunteers.
“I really enjoyed taking care of my grandmother and figured it would be a good fit,” he says.
The fit was better than most marriages, lasting 39 years and counting.
As residents have come and gone at the Elisabeth Severance Prentiss Center for Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation, Dennis is the one constant.
Another constant is Dennis' attendance at Cleveland Monsters hockey games.
He’s a season ticket holder and enjoyed the games with his mother and aunt. He made sure their seats were always high up in Section 30, to avoid the steps.
That’s where they would always see another fan. He attended every game. “He would just sit there by himself,” says Dennis. “Always in seat #1 Section 30.”
As fate would have it, in 2016, Dennis was walking through the halls of Prentiss and saw a man with a Monsters cap. Dennis said, “Oh, you’re a Monsters fan!”
Yes. It was Don. Yes. He had season tickets. And yes. He always sat in #1, Section 30. By himself.
Don would not be sitting alone anymore.
Dennis now spends his volunteer time playing cards and other games with Don at Prentiss. Last year, he treated him to a Monsters game.
This year, on February 12, Dennis took Don, who now uses a walker, to another Monsters' game.
And guess where they sat? Seats #1 and #2, Section 30.
“Don and I had a fantastic time,” said Dennis. “It was a great game, 5 – 2 win, great hot dogs and a very nice surprise.”
The surprise was a goodie bag from the Monsters with Joe Thomas bobbleheads and a meet and greet with the winning goalie, Jean-Francois Berube.
Berube even signed their bobbleheads.
What a night!
Founded in 1837, MetroHealth is leading the way to a healthier you and a healthier community through service, teaching, discovery, and teamwork. Cuyahoga County’s public, safety-net hospital system, MetroHealth meets people where they are, providing care through four hospitals, four emergency departments, and more than 20 health centers and 40 additional sites. Each day, our 8,000 employees focus on providing our community with equitable health care–through patient-focused research, access to care, and support services–that seeks to eradicate health disparities rooted in systematic barriers. For more information, visit metrohealth.org.