Earlier this week, the Dallas Cowboys took a break from their playoff hunt to spread some holiday cheer to young patients at children’s hospitals in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The team, along with the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, split into groups to visit Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas, Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, Children’s Medical Center Dallas and Medical City Children’s Hospital. This tradition, under the guidance of Mrs. Gene Jones, has gone for 29 years and is a favorite of many players.
“Playing for the Dallas Cowboys, we’re on a great platform to be able to give back and put a smile on someone’s face. It’s something we’re good at, it’s something we love, and it’s healthy for us as well. It’s a blessing.” – Jaylon Smith, DallasCowboys.com.
Take a look at photos from the Dallas Cowboys and @DCCheerleaders annual children's hospital visits.
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) December 4, 2017
Around this time five years ago, I was a rookie cheerleader sitting in the lobby of Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth for my first children’s hospital visit with the club. The players had stockings filled with goodies in hand, and we had our squad photos ready to sign. I remember former Cowboys safety Danny McCray sat to my left, and we bonded over our alma mater. (Geaux Tigers!) Tony Romo was on my right, and I tried my hardest to keep my cool… so just imagine how the children felt!
It’s always been fascinating for me to see human side of athletes. I say “human side” because as fans and critics of the sport, it’s almost like we view them as machines. Entertainers. Mutants or demigods, as All-Pro tackle Tyron Smith was once described as. Sometimes we see fights. Sometimes Tom Brady curses out a coach. Most of the time we see these guys do crazy awesome things with their bodies for our entertainment.
But on that December day in 2012, I saw the human side of these players. I saw how the children lit up when they saw Romo and Jason Witten, and that light was reciprocated. I experienced genuine interaction between the young patients in the lobby (and later with young patients who were bedridden) and Dallas Cowboys football players. I witnessed a side to these guys that isn’t always shown on television/game days. And it made me proud to not only be a part of the organization, but also to be a fan. Five years later, I think the sentiment remains on both sides.
“It’s always amazing when we get a chance to come out to a place like this and see the kids and see the smiles that we can bring to their faces. Often times it brings perspective to us that we play a game for a living, and whether we’re winning or losing, it doesn’t mean anything compared to a lot of these kids that are fighting for their lives.” – Travis Frederick, DallasCowboys.com
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