A smile and a hug. Two things that might seem so small, but when a Steelers player shares one of those signs of affection with a child, it goes a long way.
Steelers rookies visit the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.
On Tuesday afternoon, smiles and hugs were plentiful when the team's rookie class visited Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, an annual tradition that is meaningful for the players and kids.
"It's a great feeling to be here," said Dri Archer. "We enjoy it as much as the kids do. It's a great feeling when you can look across the table and see the little kids who are so happy to see you and spend time playing with you."
The hospital's atrium was transformed into a black and gold oasis, with something fun for everyone. The players challenged the kids to games like Connect 4, Trouble and Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots, while others did arts and crafts with the kids, some even leaving with their own projects they worked with the kids to create.
"It's a special experience to be able to give back and make people happy," said Stephon Tuitt. "You realize how blessed you are to be in the situation you are in. It's a good feeling to know you are making someone happy just by your presence here."
The visit was the perfect distraction for kids who have to spend their days in a hospital room, away from their friends and classmates while they aren't feeling up to par.
"This is absolutely phenomenal what they are doing," said Jennifer Fornwalt, whose son Zayne was having fun playing games with a variety of players. "Right now you couldn't even tell he is sick. He is so excited. He loves being a part of something spectacular like this."
The players also posed for pictures with the kids, and signed things that they can decorate their hospital rooms with. But the most important aspect was the time they spent together.
"It's an awesome experience for me and the whole rookie class as well," said Tuitt. "Nothing can beat it. You see the reality. You wonder how you would react in their situation. That right there keeps driving me to put smiles on people's faces as a Pittsburgh Steeler.
"It's charming. It's something I can't explain. You can't really describe it or say much more. You just have to be here."