A teenager in a color-rushed Joe Schobert jersey and a black-and-gold “Brownie the Elf” hat is waiting for the highlight of his day. Impatiently.
He’s sitting at one of four orange-clad tables that boast blank crowns, masks and capes — and markers for decoration. Soon, four members of the Cleveland Browns (along with Chomps, the team’s mascot) will join several children in designing their own superhero costumes. But as the teenager begins to pace, it’s clear that soon can’t come soon enough.
“Can’t sit down,” he says. “Too excited.”
This teenager is one of dozens of children who participated in this week’s Browns Give Back First and Ten visit, continuing the weekly tradition the Browns started back in June of 2014. This week, kids at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital celebrated Halloween with their favorite football players.
As 2 p.m. rolled around, David Njoku broke the anticipatory silence with a “Here we go Brownies” chant.
“Woof, Woof!” The children responded.
Then Njoku entered with Myles Garrett, Greg Joseph and Brad Seaton.
Garrett plopped down first and surveyed the table for the tools to design his cape. Njoku introduced himself to a teen who was hooked to an IV and dressed in his hospital gown. Parents passed Browns pennants and sharpies to players for autographs and personal messages. Joseph collaborated with another child on their cape while donning an orange mask.
“Can we start putting on the capes now, or no?” Njoku asked suddenly.
Once greeted with approval, Njoku ushered his new friend behind a UH press conference backdrop. “No peaking!” he commanded as he assisted the teen with his costume.
Finally, Njoku emerged from behind the backdrop and introduced “Jalen The Great,” a superhero who wore a black mask, orange cape and orange man bun.
“I was just doing whatever I could to make to make the experience as enjoyable as possible,” Njoku said. “He was enjoying himself. It’s always good to see.”
From there, players took selfies and held babies. Joseph photographed Njoku holding a small child. When Jarvis Landry arrived and sat down to sign a pennant, his new two-year-old pal tried scribbling over his signature.
Afterward, a couple of players made rounds visiting bed-ridden children. Landry visited several rooms to deliver bags filled with Browns gear. Families beamed as their children discovered new Browns blankets and puzzles.
Jarvis Landry, Myles Garrett, David Njoku, Greg Joseph and Brad Seaton spent time with children at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital making Halloween crafts and costumes.
Garrett made a particularly special delivery. While visiting a child who’d recently had brain surgery, Garrett gave him his own game-day-worn hat.
“I wanted him to be confident about his scar,” Garret said. “But if he feels like he wants to rep us and wants to wear a hat, then he can wear mine.”
When the event ended, Garrett called his mother to tell her how awesome the kids were. Landry took pictures with nurses to show his appreciation. And while he enjoyed his time with the kids, Landry recognizes days like Tuesday as part of his responsibility.
“It’s part of the platform,” Landry said. “I believe that God has blessed me to do this, to step into the hospital and be that light, even if just for a minute.”
About University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital:
Internationally renowned, UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital is a full-service children’s hospital and pediatric academic medical center with experts in 16 medical divisions and 11 surgical specialties who offer nationally ranked care not available at other institutions in the region, including a center dedicated to adolescent and young adult cancer treatment and Northeast Ohio’s only single-site provider of advanced maternal fetal medicine and neonatology services. As an affiliate of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and the only Level I Pediatric Trauma Center in the region, UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital offers access to novel therapies, advanced technologies and clinical discoveries long before they are available nationwide. Rainbow pediatric specialists – all of whom also serve on the faculty at the School of Medicine – are engaged in today’s most advanced clinical research and are widely regarded as the best in the nation – and in some specialties, the best in the world. Learn more at www.Rainbow.org.