It was difficult to tell who had bigger smiles on their faces, the Packers players and alumni or the children to whom they paid a surprise visit at Ministry Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Marshfield, Wis.
After a greeting in a group setting at the entrance, the tour members visited the neonatal and the pediatric units and spent quality time chatting with children and their families at their bedsides.
“It was great to get there and visit the children,” said Jayrone Elliott. “You could tell they were excited to see us. It was fun for me. I connected to with a couple kids.”
Hearing about the families’ health challenges and providing encouragement was a positive experience for Sam Barrington.
“It reminded me of my daughter. As a parent you hope your kids are healthy,” said Barrington. “Seeing parents dealing with their situations makes you not take life and health for granted.”
The patients and their families enjoyed the attention from the Green and Gold during difficult times, even if they had to get over the surprise.
“We didn’t expect it at all. It was a nice surprise,” said Megan Acker from nearby Boyd, Wis., who was in the neonatal unit with her newborn son, Silas. “It definitely boosts our spirits a bit.”
Photos: Packers Tailgate Tour visits children’s hospital
While the visit was designed to lift spirits for the children and their families, it was clear that the players even got a lift.
“The kids were inspiring, more to us than us to them,” said Robert Brooks. “All those small children and the kids just coming out of surgery. There was a kid who had just broken his femur. If that was me, I’d probably be laid up. They were in good spirits.”
There was a secondary benefit of the visit, too.
“The staff loved it,” said Heidi Giese, child life manager for the hospital. “We kept it a surprise from most of them, too. The day means a lot, to see the smiles on the faces during a hard time for the kids and parents alike.”