A smile, a hug, a high five and a fist bump.
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.
And when they share it with a child who is in the hospital, it takes it to another level.
On Monday afternoon, smiles and hugs were plentiful when the team’s rookie class visited UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, an annual tradition that is meaningful for the players and kids.
“This is great,” said Benny Snell. “It’s always good to take a day out and make somebody else’s day. That is what I find the most important. We are out here having fun. Me being able to see that joy and enjoyment, it means I am making somebody’s day. For me to be able to see someone else smile, it makes me smile and feel good. I am enjoying myself like the kids are enjoying themselves.
“It’s a great day. To see them smile it gives us enjoyment. I get to make their day and have fun doing it. It’s a good day. I live to see people smile. I live for enjoyment, especially for kids going through a tough situation. May God be with them.”
Steelers' rookies visited patients at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh
The hospital’s atrium was transformed into a black and gold oasis, with something fun for everyone. The players challenged the kids to Steelers cornhole and Jenga, while others made black and gold slime and enjoyed some laughs at the photo booth.
“This is fun,” said Devin Bush. “Just to be able to be here and be a kid again, and make someone else’s day, it’s priceless. It’s a great thing to do right now. It makes you feel good. It makes you feel like you are making an impact in their life. It takes the stress out of their life. It gives them hope. Interacting with them, talking to them, it puts a smile on my face.
“I was excited to come here and give back to the community.”
The visit was the ideal distraction for kids who have to spend time in the hospital, especially on a beautiful, sunny day.
“It’s amazing for us,” said Rebecca Desmond, Special Events Coordinator for Child Life at Children’s Hospital. “In Pittsburgh we know what a big deal it is to have the Steelers. For our kids, it’s extra special because their support system just got a little bit bigger. They know mom and dad care about them. They know everybody here at the hospital cares about them. When they see these players who never met them before, their network of people caring about them got bigger.
“It’s a distraction. It helps them take their mind off whatever is going on here. They don’t have to think about the medical stuff. They are just here to have fun.”
And that they did. Fun was plentiful for everyone and there were times it was hard to tell who was having more fun, the kids or the players.
“Playing games, getting out here and doing something different, it’s great,” said Justin Layne. “It’s priceless. To put smiles on little kids faces. I am happy to have this opportunity. This is my first time. I love it. It’s crazy. I wish I could do more of this. I want to do more of this. They are just kids who want to have fun.”