Behind the scenes the real winners of Saturday's game are patients of the Shriners Hospital, something the players found out in person on Sunday when they visited the Greenville Shriners Hospital.
"These kids really look forward to the players being here," says George Boyd, chairman of the Board of Governors. "(The players) are an inspiration to them, like talking with them, and really enjoy that."
Since the doors opened on the first Shriners Hospital in 1922, approximately 770,000 children have received medical care at one of the 22 hospitals across the nation. Through the help of Shrine Bowl games from the high school and college levels, nearly nine billion has been spent to build, operate, and maintain the hospital.
"We have the finest medical care avilable, and it is absolutely free to young boys and girls," Boy says. "How we do it is through raising money, and (the players) are an instrumental part of that."
The Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas began play in 1937, raising $2,500 for the hospital. Last year's game brought in $1.1 million and raised the total endowment for the hospitals to more than $63 million.
For the players themselves, just seeing the children and learning what the game helps to create does quite a bit.
"It makes you realize that there is more than just football," says Rico Bell, a defensive back for the North Carolina squad. "Some of the little kids, they can't walk, it makes you take a step back and realize how fortunate you are that you can just walk and run and wake up in the mornings and play football."
Beginning today, the players will wake up and continue to play football, but realize that they are playing for more than just themselves.
More Than a Game
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