Pitt players, coaches visit Children’s Hospital, 6 other sites around town
When Pat Narduzzi, his players and coaches visited Children’s Hospital on Friday, he played catch with one patient, colored with another (and stayed inside the lines) and at the end of day was reminded of how lucky he is to coach Pitt’s football team.
The visit was part of a effort by the university to wade into the community and give back, Narduzzi said.
A total of 80 players, plus coaches, staff and Narduzzi’s wife, Donna, visited seven sites, including two at Children’s Hospital in Bloomfield. They also helped out at:
• A food bank in McKees Rocks, assisting with distribution and restocking.
• St. Joseph’s House of Hospitality where they helped prepare and serve meals to the homeless.
• The Southwest Veteran’s Center, where they played bingo and ate ice cream with veterans.
• The Elroy Elementary School, where they read to second-grade students.
• The Boys and Girls Club of Shadyside, playing games with students after school.
Taking time from his preparations for the Blue-Gold game Saturday at Heinz Field, Narduzzi spent more than two hours with patients on two separate floors. Accompanied by his wife and players Liam Dick and Noah Palmer, he also visited three patients in their rooms.
“It gets more intimate when you get to go bedside,” he said.
Among many patients, they met 13-month-old James Campbell, who already has had two heart surgeries; and 7-year-old Sean Baker, who eagerly got out of bed to play catch with his visitors.
On his final bedside visit where they wore hospital gowns, Narduzzi said the female patient’s father told him, “it’s hard to get a smile out of her, but she did a lot of smiling.”
“When you walk in, you think about how great we have it,” Narduzzi said. “You have parents, you have young children waiting for hearts. The last gal we met with really doesn’t need it right now, but she needs one. They have to stay here until the heart gets here.
“You think how crazy it is to be waiting on a heart. Our kids are waiting on a game, waiting to get a grade back and see how they did on a test and they’re stressed out. “These people have a lot more stresses than we have. There are a lot more important things than what we do. That’s for sure.”
Dick, a freshman from Milton, Ontario, enjoyed his time with the patients, smiling just as much as they did. “It’s nice,” he said. “Something a little different.”
Palmer, a redshirt freshman from Thomas Jefferson, patiently worked with 10-year-old Lola Manse of Ross as she worked on her putting skills.
“As (spring) practice runs down, it’s a finish to a great spring,” Narduzzi said. “Get our kids out in the community. “Noah and Liam had a great time coming up to this floor, seeing how blessed they are to have what they have and trying to put smiles on people’s faces.”
Narduzzi said it’s an opportunity for his players “to make an impact on people’s lives.”
“It becomes addictive,” he said. “Hopefully, when they’re 30 or 40 or 50, they’ll continue to do that.”
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .