Patients at University Hospitals were full of smiles Tuesday afternoon once they were handed a tablet with a special surprise on the screen.
Cody Parkey, Jacob Phillips, David Njoku, Johnny Stanton and Chomps, the team mascot, all took time to make a virtual visit and speak with a few patients from the University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center and UH Rainbow Babies & Children's for a fun discussion about football, life and offering motivation to keep fighting toward recovery.
Browns players couldn't make in-person visits due to limitations of COVID-19, but that didn't stop them from seeking an opportunity to speak with patients. The hospital visits were a part of the Browns "Crucial Catch: Intercept Cancer" initiative with the NFL and American Cancer Society to raise awareness for all types of cancer and help patients.
"I just appreciate the Browns and how they're so interactive with fans and the community," one patient told Parkey and Phillips, who talked to several patients around the hospital through a tablet.
Many of the conversations were about the Browns' big win Sunday over the Dallas Cowboys. Several patients said they watched the 49-38 win by the Browns, who are off to their best start to a season in nearly two decades, and have been thrilled to see the Browns open the year on such a high note.
"I was so impressed by you guys, especially at the end," one patient told Parkey in a conversation about the game. "I was like, 'How did they do that? How did they do that?'"
The win brought great satisfaction to patients and workers at the hospital, and they hope the Browns continue to find success and bring joy to football fans throughout the building each Sunday.
"I just want to let you know to keep doing what you're doing," one patient told Parkey.
"Well, we're trying to win for you," he said. "We know you're watching!"
The Browns will continue to raise awareness for all forms of cancer Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium by hosting their "Crucial Catch" game against the Indianapolis Colts. Even though cancer survivors and patients are understandably limited from on-field access due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Browns still plan to honor them through videos displayed on the stadium video boards before and during the matchup. The Browns will also host a visual drive-thru experience outside of FirstEnergy Stadium from 6:30- 8 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 17. The socially-distant presentation will feature luminaria to honor and remember those who have previously and are currently facing cancer and advance the fight against breast cancer.
The Browns are committed to taking steps to improve the lives of cancer patients and survivors, and giving them a reason to smile is a small, but pleasant way of making someone's day.
That was the goal Tuesday when Browns players hopped on a Zoom call, and the discussions and smiles of everyone on the call made one thing clear: They were successful.