From Arkansas State University
The practices and meetings that have accompanied fall camp and consumed countless hours for members of the Arkansas State football team were still a part of their schedule Tuesday, but a trip to the Le Bonheur Children's Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., for all players, coaches and support staff was the activity that rose to the top of their priority list.
The Red Wolves took a break from the grind of their fall camp, which began Aug. 2 when players reported, to give young patients at Le Bonheur all their attention during the six-hour community service project. Shortly after completing their 15th practice this morning, the team loaded three buses en route to Memphis for an extended stay at the nationally-recognized children's hospital.
"The whole plan with the trip to Le Bonheur was that your mind is not your friend at this time in fall camp," said ASU head coach Hugh Freeze. "We tell them that all the time, and your mind can fool you into thinking 'Woe is me and I'm going through these two-a-days and don't get much rest.' You forget how blessed you are, and I hope this trip really brightened some young kids and their families' days, and at the same time helped us understand that we are very blessed so that we can finish fall camp on a high note."
Upon their arrival, the team was welcomed by Le Bonheur President and CEO Meri Armour and Foundation Executive Director Kavanaugh Casey. Senator Paul Bookout (Jonesboro) and Senator Robert Thompson (Paragould) also met with the team and some of the hospital staff at the onset of the visit.
Divided into several small groups, members of the team worked their way around various floors of the hospital with stops at individual rooms. The players and coaches visited with the children and signed Arkansas State t-shirts for them, receiving plenty of smiles and gaining some new young fans in the process.
The interaction continued later into the afternoon as the players again met with patients in larger rooms located throughout the hospital to take part in various art activities as a group. Members of the team were also treated to a guided tour of the hospital throughout their stay, giving them the opportunity to learn a little more about Le Bonheur.
"We appreciate Coach Freeze and the Red Wolves for coming to visit Le Bonheur," said Armour. "They lifted the spirits of our young patients. Visits like these are important because they help kids have fun even while they're in the hospital."
Le Bonheur Children's Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., treats more than 130,000 children each year in a 255-bed hospital that features state-of-the-art technology and family-friendly resources. Le Bonheur is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as a Best Children's Hospital. Serving as a primary teaching affiliate for the University Tennessee Health Science Center, the hospital trains more pediatricians than any other hospital in the state.