Vols make difference in children's lives

Heroes come in a lot of different shapes and sizes. Many children look up to several members of the Tennessee Volunteers as role models, as modern day Super Heroes. The UT Football team spent some of its day off spending time making a difference in the lives of others. The smiles these young men produced at the East Tennessee Children's Hospital were amazing. Go "Inside" this must read story.

Heroes come in a lot of different shapes and sizes.

Many children look up to several members of the Tennessee Volunteers as role models, as modern day Super Heroes.

Today roles were reversed. The Vols football team, on a much needed day off, decided to spend some quality time doing something that would mean a lot to others.

The University of Tennessee Football team split up into two squads and ventured to the East Tennessee Children's Hospital, while another group went to the University of Tennessee Medical Center.

Instead of just going through the motions, these players made the most of their trip to the Children's Hospital.

"A lot of times kids look at us as heroes," Senior Wes Brown told InsideTennessee.com. "Today they were the heroes. For us to get a chance to put a few smiles on their faces and see the battles they are going through is very special to me and my teammates. These youngsters are the heroes."

Word spread fast around the Children's Hospital that the Volunteer Football team was enroute to their location. Hospital workers, young and old smiled and couldn't wait to get a glimpse or autograph of players such as Eric Berry. Parents and siblings of patients came running up to get a picture taken or an autograph signed.

These players didn't disappoint.

One two-year old sister of a patient was heard saying "Eric Berry." When Berry came out of another room, he was told by several players that the little girl was saying his name. Of course she blushed and asked for her momma, but smiled when she saw her hero.

These players were welcomed by the hospital administrators and public relations team. The team was told not to ask the children what was wrong with them, that they might get answers they didn't want to hear.

To fathom that some of these youngsters won't make it through the week much less the year is sad in its own right, but the smiles that these players provided today were priceless and things that a lot of the children will never forget.

But these patients aren't the only ones that will remember this visit.

"This is always a highlight for me and our entire team," Brown said. "To see the difference the little time we spend here is amazing. It touches each one of our hearts, something we won't soon forget."

One little one, not older than two years old was heard crying down the hospital corridor as we made the rounds.

Hospital administrators were not sure if he was up for a room full of big guys dressed in Orange.

Instead they picked out three players to go in and brighten his day. Shortly after their arrival the tears were gone and he was all smiles. One of the players took to him and picked him and held him, and even walked around the hallways with him.

Then the sadness returned.

The player tried to give him back to his care taker. Instead of just walking off, the player walked around the hospital while they pushed him around the floor on a cart to keep him from crying.Talk about heart touching, the love this little one developed in such a short time was life changing for all involved.

"Every time these kids see Orange they light up," one hospital administrator said. "This is always the highlight for some of the kids; it definitely helps the healing process."

Not all the children visited today are terminal, some are there for multiple reasons. But anytime you are talking about two and three year olds, scared and unsure of what's happening, a little ray of sunshine or smiles is gladly accepted.

What impressed this writer the most were the personalities that I witnessed today from this football team.

These young men are so full of life; they realize how lucky and fortunate they are, especially after spending over two hours of their time at the Children's Hospital today. The interaction of these players with these children was amazing. One group found a three year old that had a super personality and had the football team coloring with him before they left.

There is a campaign for Eric Berry for Heisman. There should be a campaign for several of these young men for higher honors than Heisman.

Berry is definitely one of the top players in college football; he is even a better young man. The difference he made today in so many lives only makes you respect this young man more, if that's possible.

A big thank you from me and from Volunteer Nation to these young men. Thanks for making a difference in the youngsters lives. Thanks for being a special group of young men, thanks for being Volunteers and for wearing the Orange and White.

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