The Tailgate Tour stopped this morning at S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital in Madison had a thankful tone as the players had the opportunity to share their appreciation for a number of veterans.
Visits to the bedsides of approximately 25 patients on the upper floors of the hospital were first, encounters that included conversation, picture-taking and presentations of a special Packers challenge coin.
Michael Stearns, a Vietnam veteran, was thrilled when the visitors surprised him in his room as he was speaking with his family.
“An awesome surprise,” he said. “It is a great Father’s Day, the best I ever had.”
Photos: Tailgate Tour visits veterans hospital
As the group walked past the rooms a second time on the way out of the wing, the hospital staff remarked at the wide smiles that remained on the faces of patients and their families. The memories would remain for even longer.
Further visits took place in a group setting before the group departed, and many of the members admired a service dog that was on site. The border collie appeared very excited to see the additional hospital visitors.
Hospital director John Rohrer said the staff gets a boost from the visits, as well, and had a couple specific memories that would stand out: one being a 52-year-old man who said he felt like a little kid and was nearly crying, and another man who said that he didn’t care if his children forgot to call him today. It wouldn’t matter because he was able to meet the Green Bay Packers.
Jayrone Elliott enjoyed the opportunity to express his appreciation.
“It was a great experience,” he said. “To see guys get emotional, you knew they appreciated it and were happy to see us; you could see it in their eyes like it was Christmas morning. They put in a lot of hard work and made sacrifices. I appreciate we could have that effect on them.”
Day Three continues with an afternoon party to benefit the Iowa County Humane Society.