DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Sick children at four different hospitals across Dallas and Fort Worth got a special surprise on Monday, when the playoff-bound Dallas Cowboys played Santa Claus.
Players and cheerleaders with the team brought goodies to give away to the kids.
“It’s great to give back to kids and help and spread some holiday cheer,” said offensive tackle Doug Free.
The team divided into groups to make simultaneous visits to Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas, Medical City Children’s Hospital in Dallas, Children’s Medical Center of Dallas and Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth. A group of about 10 players and cheerleaders arrived at each location to spread holiday cheer.
“We heard some of them haven’t smiled in about a week,” explained cheerleader Mandy Voecks.
When the Washington Redskins lost on Sunday, the Cowboys became the first team in the NFL to clinch a playoff spot, so they had plenty of joy during the hospital visits on Monday. They played video games and worked on art projects with the kids, and even signed a few autographs.
The families did not know that the players would be stopping by until Monday morning.
Brett Gumm’s son has a form of bone cancer, and has been at the hospital off-and-on over the past two years. He was there on Monday to visit his favorite nurses, doctors and football players. This is not the first time that the boy has met the team.
“He’s just loving every minute of it,” the boy’s dad said. “Last year, his Make-A-Wish was with the Cowboys, so he got to go to Valley Ranch. He loved it.”
Dez Bryant quickly reunited with 8-year-old Brock, and little brother, Brody.
“Last year, his Make A Wish was with the Cowboys, so we got to go to Valley Ranch, hang out with the Cowboys, and go to practice,” said Gumm.
Gumm said his son is now in remission. It’s another gift to go along with the Cowboys clinching a playoff spot.
Nearly 60 kids at Medical City Children’s Hospital got to meet their heroes. Bryant said what the players get out of it is even greater.
“It’s always unbelievable,” said Bryant. “Just to come to the hospital to be huge heroes to these kids. They’re heroes to us.”
Eight-month-old Elianna is battling a heart condition. The cheerleaders crowded around her and signed autographs for the family.
“It was really sweet,” said her mom Katherine Williamson. “It’ll be a nice memory for her.”
The Cowboys have been making these stops at North Texas children’s hospitals each holiday season for the past 28 years.