June 28, 2013
NEW ORLEANS - Members of the Tulane Green Wave football squad took a break from their normal routines on Friday afternoon to participate in the worthy cause of bringing smiles to the faces of many little ones at Children's Hospital New Orleans.
Trading in the weight room or film study to make the trek less than two miles south of Tulane's campus to spend some time with children who are going through a difficult time was just what the doctor ordered for both the athletes and the patients. Some players spent time in the rooms with children, chatting and playing games with the patients and their families, while others spent time greeting children, their families and hospital personnel in the hallways. Tulane themed Mardi Gras beads were handed out, as were placards with `Roll Wave' emblazoned on the front, Tulane sunglasses and a host of other Tulane themed memorabilia.
The football players, as well as Tulane's mascot Riptide, took pictures and signed autographs for many excited patients.
The visit made an impression on all of the student-athletes, especially sophomore safety Darion Monroe, who made a trip to Children's Hospital New Orleans as a patient himself on his 12th birthday after breaking his wrist in an accident.
"It feels so good to be able to go over there," stated Monroe. "We went not too long ago when my little brother was there after burning his hand. Visiting these kids feels like the right thing to do. It feels good to be able to visit the kids."
In a little more than an hour, the gridiron giants squeezed into many of the rooms on the third, fourth and fifth floors of the 247-bed, not-for-profit hospital. Some of the patients who were sleeping when the student-athletes first arrived quickly awoke to meet some of their local heroes before the players moved to another floor.
Junior wide receiver Carlos Wilson quickly made friends with the brother of a patient, who was a big fan of Tulane football. The middle school student promised to make it out to one of the games during the upcoming season.
Graduate student defensive tackle Chris Davenport was heard giving words of encouragement to one of the patients who plays football.
"You're going to be a first-round pick one day," said Davenport, flashing a smile that lit up the young man's face.
Junior quarterback Nick Montana, along with redshirt sophomore offensive tackle Arturo Uzdavinis, redshirt junior defensive tackle Kenny Welcome and sophomore defensive end Royce LaFrance got in on some Monopoly action with two patients in one of the hospital's many game rooms. In just a few short rolls, Montana was able to purchase Pacific Avenue for one of the patients before he covered himself head-to-toe in Tulane garb.
Despite being offensive linemen for the Tulane football team, sophomore Alex Paul and freshman Jason stewart signed a patient's baseball at his request. Redshirt junior tight end Matt Marfisi and senior wide receiver Ryan Grant also put their signatures on the ball while dishing out many of the Tulane themed items that the athletes brought with them.
While Children's Hospital New Orleans receives visits from many celebrities year-round - including visits from teams participating in local bowl games, actors and actresses in town shooting TV shows or films or the celebrity who reigns as Bacchus during Mardi Gras - having student-athletes that can connect on a local level with the hospital's patients means a lot to everyone involved.
"It's always great when Tulane student-athletes come to visit patients at Children's Hospital," said Children's Hospital special events coordinator, Cre Andrews. "A lot of these guys are from around the area, so it's always great to see them come back and give back to the community."