The morning after giving away a 23-point lead to the Green Bay Packers in a 37-36 loss, the Dallas Cowboys were giving away presents to pediatric patients at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas.
Tight end Jason Witten admitted every year he feels like he will get nothing out of visiting the kids at Children’s Medical in Dallas. Every time, the affable, altruistic, All-Pro is wrong.
“It’s amazing to see the impact these kids can have on you and put a smile on their face,” Witten said, signing team photos for patients rolling by in wagons and wheelchairs. “But I think our lives are changed more than anything, the perspective they provide. You see them and the kind of encouragement they show facing their battles and having kids of your own.”
Since 1989, the Dallas Cowboys have made annual visits with the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders to Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, along with Texas Scottish Rite Hospital, Medical City Children’s Hospital, and Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth to deliver gifts and holiday cheer to the patients and their families. This year, each child received a “game sock” with Cowboys trinkets a yo-yo provided by United Healthcare Children’s Foundation.
Gene Jones, wife of owner Jerry Jones, has overseen the hospital visits since their 1989 inception, and loves being a part of these “heartwarming” visits. Sometimes, she is not sure whose spirits get lifted the most: the children or the players.
“On a day like today, I think it helps our players put everything in perspective after a loss and they see what life is really about and what bad times really are,” Mrs. Jones said. “And so if they can lift the spirits of these sick children, then that brings a smile to everyone’s face.”
Star linebacker Sean Lee had things put in perspective for him.
“When you feel a little down it puts things into perspective with these kids,” the four-year pro observed. “They’re unbelievable kids to fight as hard as they are. And it’s great for us.”
Teammate Brandon Carr concurred: “Today is a great day. It allows you to put things into perspective: what’s really important in life and you go through a lot of things.”
Tony Romo, who threw two fourth quarter interceptions in the last three minutes and will undoubtedly take heat for it this week, beamed when talking about his visit at Children’s Medical in Dallas, stating that giving out gifts and visiting these children was, “a great feeling.”
“You see the smiles on their faces,” the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback said. “You get a chance to see just some kids who have some great personalities and kind of going through tough times once in a while. Anything we can do to put a smile on their face is a great feeling.”
After a loss like yesterday, does giving back to the Metroplex’s unfortunate young, seeing their joy amidst adversity, provide the necessary motivation to get over a blown 23-point lead and taking command of the NFC East in mid-December? Opinions differed.
“I don’t really know,” Brandon Carr responded. “This day was already planned beforehand. More so, not really talking about the game, it just shows — it puts things in perspective after going what we went through yesterday, still having a great opportunity to wake up the next morning and make a child smile.”
Jason Witten agreed with his defensive counterpart.
“I don’t think it helps ease the reality of what happened in football, which you work so hard to do,” the Pro Bowl tight end answered. “No question to kind of take a step back and realize, you know, where you’re at in the health. It’s just a wonderful thing when you think about — I think you get respect from these guys seeing them how they go about it.”
Practice squad defensive end Caesar Rayford felt like today’s visit, “definitely brighten[ed] it up,” considering yesterday afternoon’s result.
“You know, this definitely is like, you know what, heightens up the mood,” said Rayford “Let’s get back on track. You know, we’re fighting for a playoff spot, and these kids are out here fighting for their lives. It just gets you that strength because look at what they’re going through.”
Rayford drew heavy inspiration from the children, for if they could fight through the ailments and maladies they do, then certainly he and his teammates could fight harder to just play games.
“It gives us strength to fight and get through it. So, we’re definitely going to get through it.”
According to Children’s Medical Center CEO and President Chris Durovich, the pediatric hospital has taken in over five million children during its one hundred years of operation. He also stated no child has ever been turned away. Durovich also stated that the patients would brighten the Cowboys’ week, which is a soothing balm for a team that needs a big win in Washington Sunday.