Jan. 2, 2010
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MIAMI – While Iowa is working hard in preparation for the 2010 FedEx Orange Bowl, Head Coach Kirk Ferentz and six Hawkeyes took time Saturday morning to show that it isn’t all about football.
Ryan Donahue, Trent Mossbrucker, Adrian Clayborn, A.J. Edds, Pat Angerer and Terrance Pryor, along with Ferentz, made a special visit to the Baptist Children’s Hospital in Miami. They visited 15 children, including 13 in general pediatrics and two in the intensive care unit. Obie, the lovable Orange Bowl mascot, also made the trip.
“It means a lot to us,” Pryor said. “I think it’s great for us to experience that. Every reaction from every kid was pretty neat.”
The Hawkeyes went from room to room, chatting with each child. Ferentz frequently quizzed the children on their favorite cartoons, football teams and activities. Each child received a special gift from one of the team members, which included an Iowa football hat, t-shirt and bag. Ferentz and the players also handed out gifts to other family members in the rooms, which seemed to put a smile on everyone’s face.
“I really wanted my picture with them,” seven-year old patient Jacob Brosius said. “They were really nice, and it was nice of them to give me gifts.”
Jacob’s dad, Barry, was happy his son got the chance to meet some of the players.
“We didn’t know what time they were coming,” Barry said. “We were just sitting here and in walked all these big guys ready to play some football and see how Jacob was doing. They looked like nice guys that were here to make Jacob feel a little bit better and do something good while they are getting ready for a football game.”
Eight-year old Freddy Cueller was one of the two children the group visited in the intensive care unit. When the Hawkeyes walked in the room, his smile could be seen from across the hospital wing. Ferentz and the players learned Freddy plays quarterback, and is also a left-handed baseball player. He was quick to model his new Iowa football hat, and when asked for his favorite football team, Freddy was quick to respond, “Iowa!”
“He’s here, he’s not with his family, especially on New Year’s,” Freddy’s mom Liz said. “It’s very tough, but he’s smiling and that makes me happy. It’s a big treat for him. I’m glad and very happy for him.”
While the children are impacted when the Hawkeyes make an appearance, Ferentz believes it also leaves a lasting impact on the players as well.
“Our players have a lot of opportunities during the season and out of the season to do things with the hospital (in Iowa City),” Ferentz said. “Everybody in the hospital tells us what a nice thing it is for the patients, and I suggest it’s a better thing for our players to go and just realize how lucky they are. I think that’s usually the affect that it has on our players.”
Pryor is enjoying taking in all the sights and sounds Miami has to offer, but believes opportunities like Saturday’s hospital visit makes the trip worthwhile.
“It’s very important,” Pryor said. “It’s not about staying at the Fontainbleu, or going to Miami Beach or South Beach. Being able to go a hospital to see kids, that’s very important for athletes to see the other side of things.”
As the team left each room and headed to the next, Ferentz took extra time with a parent, sibling or loved one, getting to know each family and learn a little more about the situation. Ferentz is active with the UI Children’s Hospital, and his passion for pediatric health could be seen throughout the morning.
Most college football players and coaches think strictly about football on Saturday’s. But on this particular Saturday, Ferentz and the Hawkeyes focused on a much more important topic; life. That’s why Iowa fans can always be proud to say they are a Hawkeye.