Nearly 40 members of the 2017 Maryland Terrapins football team paid a visit to the Clinical Center at the National Institute of Health (NIH) during their celebration of Rare Disease Day.
This Uplifting Experience for rare disease patients at NIH was organized by Adam Greene, the Maryland Chapter of Uplifting Athletes President.
“What’s great is when you see it all come together and the impact that you have with the kids,” Greene said. “It makes you realize all the time and effort you put into making something like this come to fruition is so worth it.”
This was the third consecutive year players from the Maryland Chapter of Uplifting Athletes visited the NIH Clinical Center as part of NIH Rare Disease Day and was, by far, the largest group of players to ever sign up.
“They don’t get many visitors often. We just talked with the young boys and girls and made them laugh,” said senior defensive end Cavon Walker. “Watching them smile and enjoy us being there made them happy and I enjoyed that. This shows us you can’t take anything for granted.”
The staff at the NIH children’s hospital divided the players up into smaller groups in order to visit as many patients as possible.
One of the rare disease patients primarily spoke Spanish. No problem as a couple member of the Terrapins squad spoke Spanish. The three of them had a great conversation.
“This really shows you the platform you are given as a student-athlete. As an athlete thousands of people live through you vicariously. And it’s not just through your performance, but also through your character,” Greene said. “This shows the players on the team the amount of impact you can have.”
Greene brought along plenty of Terrapins mini-helmets to autograph and give away. And each patient received a hand-written note signed by every player who made the trip to serve as inspiration.
In between visits with patients, at the urging of the NIH staff who were clearly comprised of Terps alumnus, the halls of the hospital would echo with the Maryland Fight Song.
And Greene, along with his teammates, said they wanted to get another visit scheduled as soon as possible. The impact these patients have on the players is real.
“I’ve always thought you go through these things and your objective is to inspire them and to really give back and to show them that you are there for them,” Greene said. “In return we end up being inspired by them. They are going through so much, but they look at the world through hope and happiness. It sheds onto you and impacts you going forward.”