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Game night delivers much-needed smiles

Posted May 11, 2016

Steelers' players bring laughter and smiles to the Ronald McDonald House.

On one side of the dining room at the Ronald McDonald House, linebacker Arthur Moats was engaged in an ‘intense’ game of Connect 4, mentally plotting out his next move.

On the other side of the room, safety Jordan Dangerfield and receiver Shakim Phillips were on opposite teams in a ‘competitive’ game of cornhole.

And all around the room, the one common theme for the night, laughter was everywhere.

“This is great,” said Moats. “We love this. Anytime we are able to come and spend time with the families and the children and put a smile on their face, it’s special. You know what they are going through, what their families are going through. That is why we love it.”

Moats and his wife Shonda, along with their three children, have been frequent visitors to the Ronald McDonald House, a place where families from all around the world who have a child undergoing long term care at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC stay during the duration of the child’s time in the hospital. He has baked cookies with them, done an ice cream social, and just spent quality time visiting. This time, though, it was all about having a family game night and he brought some of his teammates along for the fun.

“Just giving back and helping out Arthur means a lot,” said Phillips. “Kids look up to people like us so we should give back. I am a fan of the kids so I will always come out and do what I can. When you can do it, why not come out and enjoy yourself. This is a lot of fun. It means everything to see the smiles. We are all human. We all want to feel good. It’s a great feeling to put a smile on their face and motivate them.”

The families enjoyed pizza and wings for dinner, but the best part of the night was spending time with the players, especially for six-year old Chloie Nevaeh from Dallas, Texas, who has been at the hospital since Dec. 28 and still has a few more months ahead of her. Her grandmother, Margaret Crayton, has been staying at the Ronald McDonald House to be there with her, and this is the second activity she has taken part in with Moats and couldn’t be more thankful.

“This lets us know there are people out there that care other than the professional people, the providers in the health care field,” said Crayton. “We are happy to have them come out. We thank the Steelers organization for helping with this and letting us know they care about us.

“We are Steelers fans going back to the Terry Bradshaw days. We love having the players come here. There are other things to do to keep us on a level where everything is going to be okay.”

As Nevaeh and others played games with Moats, Dangerfield and Phillips, you could see it meant as much to them as it did to the kids.

“To play with them and give back means everything to me,” said Dangerfield. “It feels amazing. It feels very good. I can’t even describe the feeling.”

When you make kids smile, no description is needed.