By SARA GIBONEY
KEARNEY – Running back Romero Cotton is used to taking handoffs in the University of Nebraska at Kearney backfield.
On Monday, he took a handoff in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at CHI Health Good Samaritan – in the form of newborn twin Avienda Breeden, whose mom Stacy handed her and baby brother, Dylan, off to Cotton and UNK teammate Tyke Kozeal.
“This puts things in perspective,” said Cotton. “It’s not always about football and winning games.”
Cotton was among four UNK team captains who delivered miniature Loper footballs to families of newborns and other patients at the Kearney hospital.
“Some of the patients are here for a long time, especially those who are in our inpatient rehabilitation unit or transitional care unit. To have something to break up their day is a reminder of why they’re here getting healthy so they can return to doing the things they love, and maybe that’s watching football and cheering on the Lopers,” said Marsha Wilkerson, regional director of marketing and communications at CHI Health Good Samaritan. “It’s a little ray of sunshine.”
UNK’s Jack Wardyn of Palmer, Bronson Marsh of Omaha, Cotton of Hutchinson, Kan., and Kozeal of Sargent met with patients and families in the Family Birth Center, NICU, Transitional Care Unit and Inpatient Rehabilitation.
“This is important because UNK is a community-focused university,” said Wardyn, a senior industrial technology major and defensive tackle. “We want to support the community because they support us.
“I like doing this because you get to see the satisfaction on someone’s face when you visit, and show them you care about their day as much as they care about you playing on the field.”
The players autographed the mini footballs for patients, visited with patients in their rooms, congratulated new parents – even cradled the newborn Breeden twins in the NICU.
“We’re just grateful that they took time out of their incredibly busy schedule during football season to come meet with our patients,” Wilkerson said. “I know our patients just love getting to visit with them.”
Monday’s player visit launched an effort by The Loper Football Backers Club and Younes Hospitality of Kearney, which provided 1,200 miniature footballs that hospital staff will continue to give to newborns and other patients the remainder of the year.
Source: Marsha Wilkerson, 308.865.7972, firstname.lastname@example.org
Writer: Sara Giboney, 308.865.8529, email@example.com