As the Browns finished practice and walked off the field during Day 12 of training camp, several players walked over to the sideline, where dozens of kids and families from A Kid Again Northern Ohio waited with a smile.
A Kid Again Northern Ohio, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary, serves more than 790 families of children with life-threatening conditions through year-round, cost-free, fun-filled adventures and support for the whole family. They received tickets to the practice Sunday from Joel Bitonio and were treated to a day of fun and lifetime memories from Browns players who chatted with them, signed autographs and took pictures.
"It's something I just started this offseason, putting it together with them," Bitonio, a four-time Pro Bowl guard, said before practice. "It's for kids with terminal conditions, but they do adventures for the whole family. When a kid is going through something like that, the parents, the brothers, the sisters, the cousins, they go through it, too.
"It's a tough situation, but they work together to do these adventures, and they do all sorts of stuff throughout the year. I just thought for them to see the Browns, some of the guys and our practice would be pretty cool."
Bitonio also plans on wearing designed cleats representing A Kid Again later this season as part of the NFL's My Cause My Cleats program.
"We are so thankful to Joel and the entire Browns organization for this partnership," said A Kid Again Northern Ohio Executive Director Christine Bucknell. "This is an amazing opportunity for our families, and it's because of partnerships like this that we are able to connect with families throughout the Cleveland area who have a child with a life-threatening condition that can benefit from our programming."