Over the years, the Green Bay Packers have made it a top priority to serve within their community, especially during the holiday season. And one of the more rewarding efforts took place Tuesday night, Dec. 14, at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in De Pere at the ninth annual Christmas Party for Families of Children with Cancer.
Several Green Bay Packers players, including Bryan Bulaga, Chad Clifton, Mason Crosby, Korey Hall, Brad Jones, Nick McDonald, Mark Tausher, Andrew Quarless, Jarius Wynn and Frank Zombo, lifted the spirits of some very special fans.
By the chaotic and youthful clamor erupting from not only the children, but the Packers players as well, it was clear everyone in attendance just wanted to have the fun of being a child again. The laughter and charismatic energy displayed throughout the night proved to be just the key to put aside the difficult struggles these children have faced for much of their life.
Tackle Bryan Bulaga had no troubles participating in the night’s events. In fact, aside from his imposing 6-5, 314-pound physique, he’d have been lost in the masses of the under-4-feet-tall spirited children.
“Tonight has been great,” Bulaga said with a bowl of sprinkled-covered ice cream in hand. “Just to get out and mingle with the kids is a lot of fun. I think it kind of brings out the kid in all of us.”
That inner-kid was clearly visible as both the players and children made their way from one game room to the next.
“So far it seems like the different games here are the most fun for everyone,” Bulaga said. “But I don’t know, I think the kids will enjoy the Christmas carols the best. I don’t know if I will enjoy that part, but I know they will. I’m not a horrible singer; I wouldn’t call myself an Elton John or anything, but I should do OK.”
Perhaps ‘OK’ was a bit of an understatement as several of Bulaga’s teammates had their own opinion about his singing capabilities.
Tackle Chad Clifton was proud to demonstrate his vocal chords, but wasn’t so pleased with Bulaga’s attempts.
“I’d say Bulaga did the worst,” Clifton suggested in the spirit of the evening. “He was pulling up the rear - - definitely the caboose of the group. From where I was standing, he seemed to be the worst. I think with me coming from Memphis, the Nashville area, with a lot of music in that region it just rubbed off on me. I think Bulaga needs to get down there and brush up.”
Bulaga may not have impressed his teammates with his singing capabilities but he was right about one thing, the kids definitely had fun singing on stage.
For 5-year-old Alexandra Reif of Suamico, it didn’t matter how bad some of the players sounded.
“I liked singing a lot tonight,” Reif said. “My favorite player here was the one that was singing next to me on stage. I don’t know his name, but I liked him the most.”
And luckily for Bulaga, she thought all the players did a good job singing.
Any chance the players get to bring a smile to kids’ faces and help them forget about their troubles for one night is one they will always take.
“This event isn’t just like another sit down and handout autographs kind-of-event,” Packers fullback Korey Hall said. “You get to come here, interact with the kids, hear their stories, play games, and showcase my talent up on stage with the microphone.”
Rookie offensive guard Nick McDonald was proud to take part this year as he has been all-too familiar with the struggles of coping with cancer patients.
“This event really means a lot to me,” McDonald said. “I’ve dealt with cancer before in my life, with my mom, and I always like to give back.
“Obviously it’s our day off but we love doing this. We don’t get paid for this and we don’t want to. We just want to come out here and hang out with people who have been dealing with a lot of stress in their life, and have fun with them. This isn’t work for us, it’s fun.”
For linebacker Frank Zombo, he is still amazed that he is now in a position to make such in impact on a child’s life.
“You always want to make their day a little better,” Zombo said. “It’s crazy to be in this position where you can brighten someone’s day a little bit.