DALLAS - The Ohio State Buckeyes took time to greet young patients and their families at the Children's Medical Center Dallas on Wednesday afternoon. Red and white balloons filled the room, and the children's smiles widened as each player came down the stairs.
To kick-off the festivities, Head Coach Urban Meyer was introduced and gave a few words of encouragement to all of the guests.
"True heroes are the families and young people who have dealt with some adversity and have learned at a very young age with these families to fight through adversity," Coach Meyer said. "Understand you're not alone. We're all in this together."
The football players proceeded to give a round of applause to the children and families in the room, followed by Coach Meyer presenting patient and Ohio State's honorary game day captain, Payton Downs, with an official, autographed jersey that sported an 82nd Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic patch.
To close out the ceremony, Director of North American Consumer Marketing of Goodyear, Seth Kleugherz, presented the hospital with a check for $10,000. Additionally, Kleugherz presented a certificate for two to ride on the Goodyear Blimp for Children's Health to auction off at a special event of their choosing.
Along with Coach Meyer, quarterback J.T. Barrett and defensive lineman Tracy Sprinkle recorded a session in Seacrest Studios that will broadcast throughout the hospital via the Children's Health Red Balloon Network. Downs and two other special guests were given the opportunity to ask questions and chat about football and life goals, while receiving advice from Coach Meyer, Barrett, and Sprinkle.
"Don't limit yourself on the dreams that you want to pursue in life," said Barrett. "Don't let anybody say that you can't do something."
"Whenever you realize what you want to do, and you really put your mind to it and all of your efforts to it, nobody can stop you," said Sprinkle.
For those patients that weren't able to attend the ceremony but desired to join in the festivities of the afternoon, the two players joined Coach Meyer in visiting their rooms and presented them with gift bags, autographs, and words of encouragement.
Being a home grown Texan from Wichita Falls, this visit was especially moving for Barrett. He said he's excited to be in his home state this week and was honored to have the opportunity to meet the children and share uplifting stories with them.
"Being back in Texas is absolutely a great thing," said Barrett. "Being at the children's hospital is a great way to give back and try to lift their spirits. It's difficult what they go through, and to give a little laughter and spread a little joy is great."
All other players spent time with the children at the end of the afternoon participating in activities, getting their faces painted, and signing all of their newly gifted gear. All of the children were given t-shirts, posters, pennants and teddy bears, provided by the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic. Children's Health presented hats for the players to give the children, and all of the guests enjoyed cookies and drinks provided by Dr Pepper Snapple Group.
The Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic celebrates its 82nd anniversary on Friday, Dec. 29. Airtime on ESPN is set for 7:30 p.m. CST, with kickoff slated for 7:40 p.m.
This marks the fourth consecutive year for the Goodyear Cotton Bowl to be a part of the ESPN bowl lineup. Bob Wischusen and Brock Huard are set to provide the call from the booth with Allison Williams reporting from the sidelines.
ESPN Radio returns as the Classic's national radio partner for the sixth consecutive year. Brad Sham, the "Voice of the Dallas Cowboys," teams with Rod Gilmore in the booth and Quint Kessenich on the sidelines to describe all the action from AT&T Stadium. This is Sham's 21st consecutive year as the Classic's play-by-play voice and his 25th overall.