Penn State held its annual Make-A-Wish tour at the Lasch Building Saturday, giving children and families involved with the university's 46-hour THON dance marathon at the nearby Jordan Center an opportunity to get an inside look at head coach James Franklin's football program.
"It really is special," Nittany Lion guard Miles Dieffenbach said. "It's awesome. You build a relationship with these kids, and it's something I look forward to every year."
Dieffenbach was the leader of one of two groups that took the tour. More than 50 players helped about 40 families who have been impacted by pediatric cancer complete an itinerary that included stops in the lounge, academic center, weight room and locker room before an ice cream social at the end.
One area was especially a hit.
"These kids love the weight room," Dieffenbach said. "It's such an awesome weight room, and they could play in there for hours if they really wanted to.
"There's so many gadgets they can play around with," linebacker Nyeem Wartman added. "Some of them try to get on the treadmills and the stretch machines, so the weight room has a lot of little toys for them. That's kind of the best one."
Wartman, like many of the other players on hand, is now a multi-year participant of the event. He smiled when recalling seeing old faces again, as did tackle Donovan Smith, who recounted running into a child who blasted him with a water gun at the "Athlete Hour" — which follows the tour and is more personalized — a year ago.
"I came last year, and it was such a great time," Wartman said. "The kids are so energetic. It's just nice that we can make them smile when they see us and take them on a tour around here."