NEW ORLEANS, La. - Nearly 30 LSU football players joined coach Les Miles Thursday afternoon for a visit to Children's Hospital in New Orleans. The Tigers toured the hospital for nearly an hour, stopping into patients' rooms to lift the spirits of the children and their parents.
Each patient was presented with a miniature BCS football signed by Coach Miles and his players, who took a break from National Championship Game preparations to meet with a host of grateful admirers.
"When people see us, their faces glow, and that means a lot to us," said sophomore safety Eric Reid. "When we come here and see these kids struggling a little bit, we do everything we can to make them happy."
Children's Hospital is Louisiana's only full-service hospital exclusively for children, offering a full range of inpatient and outpatient care. Critical care is provided in the hospital's 36-bed Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), 24-bed Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), and 20-bed Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU).
Cathleen Randon, Children's Hospital director of public affairs, said the LSU visit makes an extremely positive impact upon the patients and their families.
"It's hard for a child to be in a hospital, and when they watch TV and see these players, they become their heroes," Randon said. "To have them come to the hospital is such a special treat for the children and their parents."
"It's really great to take a break from the football side of things and see these kids," said freshman punter Brad Wing. "It really means a lot to them for us to come in and talk to them. It's great for the whole community and we just love doing it. Coach Miles stresses to us the importance of events like this, and we all gain a lot from the experience."
Junior wide receiver Russell Shepard noted the strength of children fighting to overcome serious illnesses.
"These kids are strong-willed, and they inspire us in so many ways," Shepard said. "To come to this hospital and see what these kids are going through makes us realize how fortunate we are. It humbles us, and it forces us to count our blessings."