On Tuesday, I along with a host of my teammates, went into the Royal Children’s Hospital.
After kicking the footy around with some kids on the grass, where there were smiles from cheek to cheek, we went into the wards to visit some children and their families who are having a tough time.
Immediately you can see how tough these kids are. One in particular was a young boy, only 10 or 11, who’d been hit by a car two weeks before and broken both of his legs.
He got wheeled out in his wheelchair with a blanket over his legs to hide the metal holding them together. Despite this, he struck me as being so strong of mind.
Two weeks ago, he was an able-bodied kid running around and doing everything he wanted to do. Now, things have changed so dramatically, yet he remains incredibly optimistic and enthusiastic for someone in such a difficult position.
He had every right to feel sorry for himself, but he didn’t. All he focused on was how he could persevere to first start walking and, one day, play with his mates again.
While chatting to his parents, his dad said that he hasn’t been to the hospital much because he’s been at home looking after their other six kids.
And that’s the cornerstone of our AFL Players Care donation to the Good Friday Appeal. It is not just about the kids under care at the hospital – it’s about the behind-the-scenes as well, the sacrifices families are forced to make in unfortunate times.
It’s a truly eye opening experience to see what these families go through.
The staff at the Royal Children’s Hospital are world class. Even by only spending a couple of hours there, we could see how grateful all the kids and families are for the work the doctors and nurses do.
To have an organization like the Royal Children’s serving Victoria and Australia makes you see how powerful a donation such as this can be.
As AFL players, we get the opportunity to do many things like this. It’s such a simple thing for us, but it is these simple acts that bring smiles to these kids’ faces. It’s something we, as footy players, really appreciate.
As soon as we get the footy out and start kicking it around, kids are coming up and yelling ‘Jack Ziebell’ or ‘Todd Goldstein’.
There was one girl under care at the hospital on Tuesday, who for half an hour would not stop playing to kick to kick with all her favourite players. To be able to bring such joy to someone, be it for a brief moment, is an opportunity not many get.
What they’re going through isn’t something you’d wish upon anyone let alone a child, spending weeks, months and even years of their young lives at the RCH.
So for us, to take a small amount of time out of our lives to bring smiles to their faces is incredibly worthwhile.
It’s the least we can do.