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N.C. A&T, Grambling players put rivalry aside to cheer up sick children

They spread the message of hope at Hughes Spalding Children’s Hospital in Atlanta

Walking onto the second floor of the Hughes Spalding Children’s Hospital in Atlanta, you could see that the patients were anticipating something wonderful.

The children had a different sparkle in their eyes, almost as if they knew something special was going to happen, and they were right. Four players each from North Carolina A&T and Grambling State came to surprise patients at the hospital Friday morning. The players had a special interest in visiting these sick children because they are in the cancer and blood disorder center because of their diagnosis of sickle cell anemia, a blood disorder that causes red blood cells to become misshapen and break down.

Julius Reynolds, Garrett Nestor, Joshua Patrick and Dominic Frescura from North Carolina A&T joined De’Arius Christmas, Dre’ Fusilier, Ja’Terious Pouncy and Trenton Scott from Grambling State as they all came together to help brighten the day of kids in the downtown Atlanta children’s hospital.

“I think this was great for the kids. It brought the kids a lot of joy,” said Rodteshia Pickett, mother of newborn Shenella Pickett. “We got some signed memorabilia and they provided some great smiles for the children, and everyone seemed to enjoy the football players coming through and showing love.”

Pickett’s daughter was receiving a checkup from the hospital after she was born last Tuesday.

The Picketts were not the only ones receiving love from the athletes from two historically black universities. Many older children were ecstatic when they saw the towering football players walk onto the second floor bearing smiles and gifts.

“Not many football people come out and give out hats and come to the hospital and all that,” said Rodrika Fish, the mother of Marcel Fish and Sheron Fish, who were waiting at the hospital. “This was a great Christmas gift for these kids, and that should really make them smile and make them happy.”

While the eight players spent only about an hour with the patients, Pickett believes the impact the players had on these kids could go a long way in setting a positive precedent for these kids’ futures.

“This sets a great example for the kids and gives them a lot of inspiration; a lot of these kids are going to want to grow up and want to prosper to be something,” Pickett said. “Even if these kids don’t have a lot of money, they are going to want to be doing something to bring some type of light to other kids and give them hope like they were given hope today.”

North Carolina A&T and Grambling players left behind their rivalry over who will become the next historically black college champion. But in eyes of those kids at Hughes Spalding, all of those players are champions.

Donovan Dooley is a Rhoden Fellow and a multimedia journalism major from Tuscaloosa, AL. He attends North Carolina Agricultural & Technical University.