Steelers' rookies bring joy to kids

They played video games, did arts and crafts, showed their skills at classic kid's board games and even had a few sword fights.

But more important than anything, they brought smiles to the faces of kids who needed it the most.

The Steelers rookie class made their annual visit to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, and from the minute they walked in the door you could see everyone's spirits pick up, including six-year old Brennan Phillips.

"He was very sad and cranky this morning," said his mother, Kimberly Phillips. "He was bored and said I want to get out of here. Then we found out the Steelers were coming and his whole attitude changed dramatically. In the middle of this crisis he is having, it's a blessing. I couldn't believe that we were going to be here when they are here. I think it's fantastic they do this."

Running back Le'Veon Bell, who was making cutout footballs with Phillips, felt blessed to be among the group that helped change the young boy's outlook.

"It's uplifting. It gives you all of the right feelings," said Bell. "To come here and make a kids day, kids that are having a bad day, it makes your day better. It makes you value everything. A lot of people are faced with different adversities and if we can make their day a little better we should do that to the best of our ability."

While there were some warm and tender moments shared with the kids, remember one thing, these guys are athletes and when it comes to games they are competitive.

"I am a competitor," said Shamarko Thomas. "We are having fun and it's bringing me back to my little days. I always wanted to do something like this, and I am happy I am able to."

For Donald Poindexter, an 11-year old that was playing Trouble with Thomas and Terrance Garvin, he definitely got to see the competitive side of them. "In this game they are actually pretty cruel. They keep sending me back to start," joked Poindexter. "Whenever they play games with us it reminds us that they are still people too. It's nice to have some fun and take my mind off of things."

It wasn't just the kids who benefited from the time together and used it to take their mind off things. The players got a lot out of it as well.

"It's fun to hang out with the kids," said receiver Markus Wheaton, taking a quick break from an intense game of Connect 4. "They just want to have fun, so you can relax and enjoy it. It takes a lot of stress off of you coming here, getting away from everything you are focusing on, and just come here and spend time with these great kids."

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