As Sean McWilson sat playing Wii games with Steelers guard Kelvin Beachum, you never would have known the 12-year old had surgery earlier in the day. He was smiling, laughing, and even bragging a little bit that he was doing pretty well taking on Beachum in both football and boxing.
It was a sight that made his mother just beam and tugged at her heart, especially knowing how he felt earlier in the day.
“It’s great,” said Sherry McWilson from Pleasant Hills. “This is the first time he has been able to bounce back from surgery this fast. It’s great these guys took time out of their day to spend time with the kids.
“It’s wonderful for him to be able to cheer up and come down here and do this. He can’t stand too well because of the anesthesia and Kelvin pulled up a chair and said come on let’s play. It’s great to see him go from being in bed and not wanting to move this morning to up playing Wii with Kelvin Beachum this afternoon.”
Beachum was a part of the Steelers’ rookie class annual visit to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC on Tuesday, hanging out with the kids who enjoyed a fun-filled afternoon playing games and doing arts and crafts.
“It’s really humbling,” said Beachum. “These kids are strong. I have a dude that just came out of surgery and he is out here having fun. It shows how blessed we are to be able to give back and have an impact. It shows where you want to be later in life and wanting to give back.”
Tackle Mike Adams, who at 6-foot7 towered over the kids, could barely fit into the tiny chairs, but that didn’t stop him from playing games, taking on the childhood favorite of Trouble for a few rounds with some stiff competition.
“In college this was one of my favorite things to do,” said Adams, who went to visit children’s hospitals while at Ohio State. “Just anything you can do to brighten up their day is special. It’s great to come out and do this.
“There are some kids who have faced adversity and they are here toughing it out. To come here and spend time with them and make their day better is something that is a blessing for us to be able to do.”
While Alameda Ta’amu and Adrian Robinson were busy at arts and crafts, Chris Rainey was getting his first experience playing Candyland and was getting schooled at it.
“It’s the first time I played it,” said Rainey. “I thought there was real candy involved.”
But despite not faring well at the game, he was having a great time.
“It’s fun. I love giving back,” said Rainey. “You think about when you were a little kid and you had a chance to have fun with others. Giving back to kids, letting them have fun and making them happy is an inspiration. I love to see a kid smile.”
So does the Child Life staff at Children’s Hospital, who the visit is arranged through. They understand the impact having the players come to the hospital can make, and know that the laughter and smiles they put on the kid’s faces can sometimes do more than medicine can.
“I can’t begin to tell you what it means to the kids and families,” said Beth Lewis, Director of Family Services at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. “They hear about it and then look forward to it all day. If you take a look at their faces you see how much the smile goes from ear to ear. What is really cool is hearing them talk about it weeks later.”
Lewis said that family members are also invited to enjoy the afternoon activities, as they too are impacted by the hospital stay.
“Our children go through so much and are so resilient,” added Lewis. “It changes how they view their experience here. They go through so much on the medical side so to be able to just relax for an hour and have fun with somebody they see on TV is incredible for them.”
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