By Jennifer Mayerle

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Country superstar Garth Brooks may be in town for a record number of concerts, but Friday afternoon he put smiles on the faces of some special fans.

Garth stepped off the elevator at Children’s Hospital and Clinics in St. Paul to greet patients, parents and healthcare workers.

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He was there to dedicate The Child Life Zone, a therapeutic play area inside the hospital, open to patients, families and siblings.

“My job is to make sure they know that this is all about them, the kids, and the athletes that are building these places,” Brooks said.

The non-profit he co-founded, Teammates for Kids, works hand-in-hand with professional athletes to build spaces where kids can feel like kids.

“The best medicine is laughter, is being a kid, getting them back to being a kid because that’s what they’re best at,” Brooks said.

A young fan, Grace Vokaty, needed that during a scary time.

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“They told us I have Type 1 Diabetes, so that’s when I started to get emotional,” Vokaty said.

Vokaty said the Child Life Zone changed the way she looked at her diagnosis.

“It helped because it made me feel normal, ’cause I really never felt normal,” she said.

And it helped her family too.

“For us, it’s a relief. It’s taking them to where we can go learn about her diabetes and what she’s dealing with and know that she’s having fun,” her father, Aron Vokaty said.

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Brooks said, “It makes all stuff that you maybe kind of have to stay up late at night because you don’t have time to do it in the daytime, it makes all that stuff more than worth it.”

Jennifer Mayerle