DALLAS - From the moment the LSU football team walked in the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children on Tuesday, smiling faces and warm hearts greeted every player, coach and staff member.
Head coach Les Miles and the team spent time at the children's hospital to encourage and sign autographs for the kids and their families.
"This hospital is operated by donation, and how wonderful it is to make somebody smile who has a little bit less than you," Miles said. "We were honored to be here and meet and interact with the children."
When the team first arrived they were greeted in the lobby by several children and their families who gathered around to welcome the players while "Fight For LSU" played over the speakers.
In front of the entire assembly, Brooks Taylor, one of the children, handed coach Miles a painting Taylor drew for his favorite team.
After talking to the children and signing autographs in the lobby, several players moved upstairs to visit patients in their rooms.
"I will remember this just as much as I will remember anything that goes on in my last game as a Tiger," senior linebacker Kelvin Sheppard said. "This is a very humbling experience, and everyone including myself appreciates this a lot because it helps us remember what we have. I am very thankful and humbled by this experience."
Sophomore wide receiver Russell Shepard added, "These kids are probably more help to us than we are to them. What we are doing is easy; we are playing a game. They are fighting through adversity and making it through life. They are a blessing to us, and they let us know that every day doesn't last forever. We have to live every day like it's our last, so I want to thank these kids for giving us that opportunity."
Zack Watson, one of the children at the hospital, and his parents have his room decked out in LSU apparel. In fact, his father Bubba said his son's hospital room mimics Zack's room at the house with the amount of LSU gear and colors on the wall.
"We weren't expecting the team to show up until we saw the sign out front last night, and when we saw they were coming it was a total surprise," Bubba Watson said. "LSU is our heritage because we are from Louisiana, and that's what makes this special."
Mark Bateman, Director of Public Relations at the hospital, said the staff does whatever they can to make the children's time at the hospital as positive as possible.
"This is a special place for special kids, and these kids look forward to people coming in that they aspire and dream to be like some day and lead normal lives," Bateman said.
After the hospital visit the team will get back to practice and film study in preparation for the Cotton Bowl against Texas A&M, but there is no doubt they will remember the new friends they made today.