Jan. 2, 2006
A group or Florida State senior football players took some time Sunday afternoon after practice to help brighten the faces of some area children when they made a special visit to the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood, Fla. The Seminoles, dressed in their garnet and gold, passed out FSU socks, bags and hats and took time to sign many autographs.
“I think it’s important for football players to give back to the community,” Wimbley said. “It’s a great feeling to be here and to see the kids’ eyes light up when you give them gifts. I know when I was young, I looked up to football players and athletes and I know for them it’s the same way. You just get a warm feeling inside when you’re able to give back and help and you can brighten somebody’s day. It’s definitely a positive.”
Members of the Florida State senior class traditionally make a trip to a local hospital during bowl week.
“It’s one of the most important things we do during bowl week,” Associate Athletics Director Pam Overton said. “It’s equally as important for our athletes as it is for the children. When you see children fighting for their lives, it puts football in perspective and it means everything to our guys to do this. It’s wonderful to see them give back in this way.”
For Castillo, a sixth-year senior, this is the third straight year he has participated in the hospital visit.
“It’s just so important,” Castillo said. “We as athletes, especially being able to play at Florida State, we’re tremendously blessed and to get to give back to the community, visit with young kids and put a smile on their face and brighten up their day a little bit is just a tremendous honor.
“For me, wanting to go to medical school, one of the areas I’m looking to go into is pediatrics if I don’t going into to orthopedics and it’s a great honor to get to come down here,” Castillo continued. “We don’t mind at all. With the little bit of free time we do have this week, the guys are fighting to get to come to the hospital.”
The Seminoles will face No. 2 Penn State Tuesday night in the FedEx Orange Bowl and have been practicing all week for the contest. While the game is important to the Seminoles and their fans, a trip to a children’s hospital tends to put life in perspective.
“You definitely see how blessed you are and how much other people have to struggle,” Wimbley said. “Basically you realize how fortunate you and your teammates are that we haven’t suffered something as life-changing as these kids have and yet they still fight. It just makes you want to continue on in life fighting for what’s right and doing good things and helping people.”
Rebecca Lurie, a Child Life Specialist at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, was appreciative of the players’ efforts.
“Visits like this help out a lot with the children’s socialization,” she said. “It helps keep them happy, looking forward to something. They get to go home and tell everybody that they got to meet the Orange Bowl players and that they got to see FSU and get some cool things. It’s definitely something that cheers them up. A lot of times, we don’t tell the kids in advance. It’s a great surprise for them and the parents absolutely love it too.”