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By PATRICK SOJKA
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Bowl trips provide special opportunities for the University of Iowa football team. Perhaps the most special of those took place Wednesday afternoon when a group of Hawkeyes visited patients at Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida.
“We have had beach days, and other fun activities, but a humbling experience like this helps keep things in perspective,” said junior defensive end Riley McMinn. “We have a great group of guys out here today. We really enjoy visiting these children.”
“This is a great opportunity for us to give back to the community, and greet those that cannot come out to the game,” said junior defensive tackle Darian Cooper.
The Hawkeyes face Tennessee in the 2015 TaxSlayer Bowl at 2:20 p.m. (CT) from EverBank Field in Jacksonville on Friday, Jan. 2.
Wednesday, they spent time meeting and visiting with the children, gaining as much from the experience as the children they met.
“It is great to give back, especially to kids,” said McMinn. “They are looking up to us as role models. Being able to visit them, put a smile on their face, and brighten their day, is what it is all about.”
The visit held extra meaning for Cooper, who had surgery at the facility at the age of three.
“As a person who has been hospitalized, it is great to have people stop by and check in on you and talk with you,” he said.
The Hawkeyes kept coming back to one term: perspective.
“It really puts things in perspective for us as football players,” said McMinn. “There is life outside of football.”
“At the end of the day, football is a game,” said Cooper. “The children here are going through something real, something a lot deeper than football. It is a blessing to be able to come by and help out any way we can.”
The other term they kept coming back to?
“It was great to put a smile on their faces,” said Cooper. “A smile is a week’s worth of medicine.”