Matt Myers and Scott McKeever got that greeting upon arriving at Phoenix Children’s Hospital Thursday from a kid who was about to receive a heart transplant this week.
“I have never seen one in real life,” said the kid. It was a touching moment for the Lumberjack players.
“He was so thrilled,” said kicker Matt Myers, who organized the trip to Phoenix. “He was jumping around with all the IVs in him and he was still moving around real good. He was attached to our hip for the next 30 minutes.”
His mom commented to the players she had not seen her son smile like that in two years.
“You give them give minutes of time where they can forget about their current situation and bring a smile to their faces,” said Myers. “I was speechless when I was in there. It was awesome.”
Myers, who is a nominee for the Allstate Good Works team, joined safety Taylor Malenfant (Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep), linebacker Scott McKeever (Wickenburg High School) and former Lumberjack defensive lineman Brandon Vance (Portland, Ore.) on the excursion.
“When we walked in it was a shock,” said McKeever, who is a cancer survivor. “We went in thinking the kids would be down with their conditions. When we saw their faces light up, it was like they were doing something for us.”
While the visit was a good will effort on the part of the players, they took away as much as they gave during the visit.
“What we go through as student-athletes is nothing compared to what they have to go through,” said McKeever. “They are fighting for their lives and the opportunity to get released and live their lives. If they learned half as much as we did, we did a very good job. It was a great experience. It was heart-touching.”
The Lumberjacks brought donated by the NAU Bookstore including tickets to the Arizona game, mini footballs and other signed items. Martin Zanzucci of Granny’s Closet also donated funds to help purchase items for the trip. The NAU Student-Athlete Advisory Committee helped pay for the costs of the transportation of the athletes to Phoenix.
One girl ran up to the players with several colored pens to sign one of the items. After they signed the football, she told them to wait a second.
“She ran up to both of us and hugged us,” said Myers. “It was awesome.”
Malenfant, who is from the Phoenix area, had a special connection with the local kids.
“I took at as a treat,” said Malenfant. “It was fun to get their mind off of what they are going through.”
The student-athletes plan to stay in touch via the hospital staff with the patients.