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Irish Give Kids The World

Dec 27, 2011, 3:15 AM EST

With kickoff just over 48 hours away, today was the equivalent of a Thursday if this were a normal game week. Some rain passed through OrlaNDo this afternoon, as the Irish hit the practice field for the final time this season. They will hold one final walkthrough tomorrow, before battling Florida State in the Champs Sports Bowl on Dec. 29.

But before focusing on football after an early lunch at the hotel, the Irish joined the Seminoles for a great morning at the Give Kids The World Village in nearby Kissimmee. Give Kids The World is a “70-acre, nonprofit ‘storybook’ resort, located near Central Florida’s most beloved attractions, where children with life-threatening illnesses and their families are treated to weeklong, cost-free fantasy vacations.”

As Louise, one of the volunteers at GKTW said to the players as they arrived, “You want it to be the best Tuesday of their lives, and you’re going to make that happen for them today.”

Taking some time away from football, the Irish and the Seminoles brightened up the lives of many children, and spread joy to their families, simply by spending quality time with them.

For fans, sometimes the emotional interest invested in the outcomes of games causes us to overlook the fact that teams are more than collections of athletes. People always see the hard-hitting, physical and aggressive side of college football players.

But sports and life, are about much more than that. They are about the children’s laughter and the smiles on the faces of their parents as they get ice cream from Darius Fleming and autographs from Michael Floyd and Harrison Smith, take pictures with Manti Te’o, dance with Mike Golic Jr. and Andrew Hendrix and play catch with Carlo Calabrese and Jamoris Slaughter. (These, just a few of the special moments I saw this morning.)

The children and their families enjoyed their day, not because they got to spend it with athletes who’ve scored big touchdowns or made important tackles, but because they were struck by the kindness of complete strangers. They were surrounded by a team of young men, a group of student-athletes whose lives, at the end of the day, will be measured in the positive impact they had on the world and those around them, not in the accolades they achieve on the football field.

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