Steelers rookies spread cheer


When a nurse approached eight-year Reagan McCreary in the playroom at Children's Hospital to tell her that the respiratory department was ready for her, she glanced at them for a moment and then went right back to playing a game of Uno. And you couldn't blame her. After all, she was winning against some tough competition.

McCreary, who had just schooled Steelers rookies Stevenson Sylvester and Thaddeus Gibson in several games of Trouble, wasn't about to let them off easy. So while the respiratory department waited, she kept on playing Uno. And she won.

She was just one of the many patients who spent an afternoon playing games and doing crafts with the Steelers rookies during a visit to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh at UPMC.

It's a time for the kids to forget about the aches and pains, the reasons they are in the hospital, and just have some fun with players they are used to seeing on television, but not always in person.

"As soon as she heard the Steelers were going to be here her spirits were immediately lifted and she got right out of bed," said her mother, Tara McCreary. "She had to get dressed and fix her hair being the little girl that she is. It really means a lot to her. Before this she was laying in bed complaining about how she wanted to go home."

Despite taking some lumps at the games, the players thoroughly enjoyed themselves, laughing and joking with the kids.

"She kicked our butt. I don't know, I think maybe she was cheating because I couldn't even get out of the blocks in Trouble," joked Sylvester, who said he hadn't played games like that since he was about six-years old. "This was amazing. As a little kid I always enjoyed it when older public figures came and helped out and had fun with us. This was fun time for me. I loved playing with these wonderful kids."

"To be able to come out and put a smile on their face is a great feeling," added Gibson. "I am so happy to do it. It's so fun to come here and do this stuff. I had a good time and enjoyed every bit of it."

Maurkice Pouncey made the rounds from video games to Connect 4, getting a little serious as he contemplated his next move, but having a great time.

"It's amazing. It's a great opportunity for us to all give back," said Pouncey. "We get to really enjoy time with the kids. It's puts a big smile on their faces and it cheers me up."

While some of his teammates were losing, Antonio Brown did sneak in a victory, but not in all games.

"It's always great to be with kids, especially ones who are going through a lot and are still happy about life," said Brown. "The reality of life is you have to overcome some difficulties. It's really fun to be here helping with the kids and putting a smile on their face."

And it's those smiles that can serve as some of the best medicine the kids receive.

"No one wants to be in the hospital," said Dr. David Chi, an ear, nose and throat surgeon at the hospital. "We try to make it the most inviting time while they are recuperating. To have the Steelers come it makes it easier for them to be in the hospital, hopefully ease the time while they are in the hospital.  

"To have them get their mind off being in the hospital, their mind off why they are in the hospital, why they are sick it makes them smile and laugh. Getting to play air hockey with the Steelers is something they will cherish. As much as they don't want to be in the hospital they will remember this happy moment they got to be with the Steelers."

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