Sitting in a hospital room that overlooked the city of Boston resided Felix, one of the many children who travel to Boston Children’s Hospital to receive treatment. As a group of newly minted Patriots rookies filed into the room for a visit, Felix’s flashed a huge smile and there was no keeping him in bed.
The five-year-old brought his best knock-knock jokes and tricked the group of players into missing his high-fives. Danny Etling, Darren Andrews, Ryan Izzo and Keion Crossen left the room without a high five from Felix, but they left with hearts full and plenty of laughter.
Although they’ve visited hospitals in their hometowns or college towns, for them, Boston Children’s Hospital allows them to reach so many more people. It allows to make an even bigger impact.
“[I]t’s the little things that matter,” said Isaiah Wynn. “With us just going in there, even speaking or passing by one of the little kids in the hallway and waving at them, we ultimately made their day, week, month.”
With 400 beds in the hospital, visits like these have a contagious effect because a smile on a patient’s face carries through to the doctor, who then takes that positive interaction to the next patient and the next.
Many knew of the potential impact that they could have on the patients the hospital treats, but they didn’t realize that those they visited would leave an impression on them.
“Just coming to see and bring some joy, and they’re bringing joy to us and a lot of energy. It’s just awesome,” linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley, added.
He saw that joy first hand when he visited Dean, a 15-year-old patient from Stoughton, who also jumped out of bed when Ja’Whaun, Christian Sam, Braxton Berrios and Duke Dawson walked in. Dean, who chatted with the guys about Madden and other video games, shared that he would be going home.
“I’ve been here three weeks, might as well start paying rent,” he joked.
All four of the guys broke out in laughter, giving out high fives to send Dean off on a positive note.
“We had no clue he was being released today,” Ja’Whaun said. “It was a great experience for us just to be there to experience it with him and him to go out the way he has.”
While some of the rookies got a chance to talk about movies, video games and football with the patients they visited, some of them provided the parents with pleasant conversation and words of encouragement. In one room, Keion got the opportunity to hold little Juliana as he checked in with her mom on her health. As Danny, Ryan and Darren gathered around him, they learned that little Juliana would be turning three months in a few days.
“Best highlight of the day,” Keion said. “You know, just valuing the experience that we get with the kids, even some of the adults here. It’s a great opportunity just to show them that we care about them and just to uplift their spirits.”
These small moments throughout the day culminated in the guys serenading a few patients in the Patient Entertainment Center. Led by Ja’Whaun, the guys sang “Lean On Me” by Bill Withers, the song the last year’s rookie class ended their visit with.
“It just shows our passion off the field,” Keion said. “We’re more than just football players, and we have care not just for kids, but our community as well. So to show our appreciation that means a lot.”