NFL Health Update: Cowboys bring holiday cheer to childrens hospitals

NFL HEALTH UPDATE -- DEC. 17, 2014

COWBOYS BRING HOLIDAY CHEER TO LOCAL CHILDRENS HOSPITALS

For the 26th year, the Dallas Cowboys conducted their annual children's hospital holiday visits on Dec. 9, spreading a little cheer and delivering toys. The entire Cowboys roster, Cowboys Cheerleaders, mascot Rowdy, executives and significant others divided into groups to visit hundreds of children at four area hospitals: Children's Medical Center, Medical City and Texas Scottish Rite in Dallas, as well as Cook Children's in Fort Worth. Each child received an authentic Cowboys game sock stuffed with goodies courtesy of the UnitedHealthcare Children's Foundation. The annual initiative is a favorite of the Cowboys both for players and staff, putting smiles on faces and offering some much-needed distraction for young patients and their families.

PATRIOTS HOST 21ST ANNUAL CHILDREN'S HOLIDAY PARTY

For the 21st consecutive year, the Kraft family and the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation hosted a holiday party at Gillette Stadium on Nov. 26 for children in need. More than 250 children from the Salvation Army and community centers across New England were invited.

Patriots players joined Patriots cheerleaders and Pat Patriot to help serve dinner, sign autographs for the children and take part in a variety of holiday-themed games, including build-a-tree, where the players and special guests were decorated with garland, ornaments and other items to resemble a Christmas tree. The night was capped with presents for all of the children, their choice of a variety of teddy bears and a special visit from Mr. and Mrs. Claus.

"It's special," said Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. "I mean coming here, helping out the kids, giving back to the kids is a great experience."

PANTHERS AWARD $55,000 GRANT TO NORTH CAROLINA HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION

The Carolina Panthers awarded the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) a $55,000 grant to support the Heads Up Football initiative. The grant was announced during the NCHSAA's 2014 state high school football championship press conference in Chapel Hill.

"The NCHSAA is a national leader in promoting safety for its schools and student-athletes," said Panthers director of community relations Riley Fields. "The Panthers share similar values and are committed to enhancing player health and safety at the youth and high school levels. We are pleased to partner with the NCHSAA to provide new opportunities for high schools."

During the past two seasons, nearly 1,000 high schools have adopted Heads Up Football, including the Wake County Public School System and Pitt County Schools.

CHARGERS OFFENSIVE LINE KICKS OFF SEASON OF GIVING

The Chargers offensive line kicked off the holiday season on Dec. 8 by taking children shopping at Macy's. Each child was given $400 to purchase family Christmas gifts. The children were selected by STAR/PAL, a non-profit organization that provides more than 10,000 youth services annually in inner-city neighborhoods throughout the county of San Diego.

Offensive line coach Joe D'Alessandris initiated the event when he joined the Chargers. Throughout the season, the O-line is "fined" for certain indiscretions, such as wearing a hat in a position meeting. They pay the "fine" and at the end of the year the amount raised is used for this event.

"It's great to see the smiles on their faces," D.J. Fluker said. "I enjoy being here. I didn't really see many gifts as a kid, and it's funny because one time I raised gifts for a needy family, and none of us knew that the family ended up being my own! So it feels great to give kids tonight things that I didn't have."

TEXANS AWARD PLAY 60 GRANTS TO LOCAL SCHOOLS

Texans president Jamey Rootes and general manager Rick Smith recognized the four schools who received PLAY 60 grants from the team in a check presentation during the Nov. 30 game between the Texans and Tennessee Titans. Grants totaling $40,000 were awarded to Clifton Middle School, DeZavala Elementary School, J. R. Reynolds Elementary School and Pro-Vision Academy. Nearly 50 schools in the area applied for grants worth up to $10,000 to help purchase the equipment they need to get kids moving during the school day. The Houston Texans participate in several programs throughout the year to help further the PLAY 60 message and to help kids across Houston get active and stay active.

BILLS TOYOTA ROOKIE CLUB HOSTS ANNUAL HOLIDAY PARTY FOR CHILDREN

The Bills Toyota Rookie Club hosted 100 children from 10 local organizations at the winter-wonderland themed Jim Kelly Club at Ralph Wilson Stadium for the annual Buffalo Bills Holiday Party for Children.

After enjoying dinner with the children and sharing their favorite holiday memories, more than 20 Bills rookies and veterans, including C.J. Spiller, Dan Carpenter and Eric Wood, passed out presents to each child in attendance with the help of Santa Claus.

"The Toyota Rookie Club Holiday Party for Children is always one of our favorite events of the season. The excitement our guests exhibit over the gifts they receive and the players they meet is something we truly value," said Gretchen Geitter, Bills vice president of community relations. "We are thrilled to welcome back our guests and to continue to work with the local agencies that are doing such wonderful things for our local youth."

DETROIT LIONS SURPRISE FAMILY WITH FULLY FURNISHED HOME

The Detroit Lions, in partnership with Warrick Dunn Charities' Homes for the Holidays (HFTH), presented a brand new, fully furnished home to a family in Detroit on Dec. 9.

Detroit Lions staff, players, and members of the Detroit Lions Women's Association had one week to purchase home décor and furnishings and stage them for the final presentation. Detroit Lions partners Gardner White, Meijer and Subway were also on hand to assist with filling the home with furniture, décor and groceries.

The family arrived on that morning to a large crowd of Detroit Lions staff, volunteers, players, and alumni to welcome them. Lions players Andre Fluellen, Darryl Tapp, James Ihedigbo, Jordan Thompson and alumni Herman Moore and Lem Barney presented the Harris family with a check to use toward the down payment of their new home before handing over the keys.

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES' DR. PETER DELUCA HONORED BY OTHO DAVIS SCHOLARSHIP FOUNDATION

The Otho Davis Scholarship Foundation (OSDF) recently awarded the third annual Dick Vermeil Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. Peter Deluca for his outstanding contribution and dedication in the field of sports medicine.

Dr. Deluca is in his 18th season with the Philadelphia Eagles and 13th as the head team physician and head Orthopaedic Surgeon. He is also the head team Orthopaedic Surgeon for the Philadelphia Flyers.

Harold Carmichael, President and Trustee of the Otho Davis Scholarship Foundation, praised DeLuca, r saying, "He always takes exceptional care of the players on the Eagles, and is my and my family's doctor as well." Mr. Carmichael went on to say that DeLuca's, "'training table' side manner is second to none. He puts our players first and is a real pro. We are delighted to be able to honor him with the prestigious Dick Vermeil Award this year."

"It is an honor to be the recipient of the Dick Vermeil Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of the care that I have and will continue to provide to athletes," said DeLuca.

COLTS PACK ONE MILLION NUTRITIOUS MEALS WITH KIDS AGAINST HUNGER TO "SACK" HUNGER

More than 4,000 volunteers gathered recently at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis for the fourth annual Million Meal Marathon. Volunteers packed nutritious meals that will be distributed through Gleaners, Midwest Food Bank and Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana to help end hunger for the one in four Hoosier children who are food insecure. Colts players Cory Redding, Matt Overton, Khaled Holmes, Kelcy Quarles, Bjoern Werner and David Arkin as well as Colts Cheerleaders volunteered at the event.

Redding said, "I don't think any kid should go to bed hungry. Events like the Million Meal Marathon help us get closer to the goal."

By mobilizing the energy and compassion of Indiana children, teens and adults to package these meals, Kids Against Hunger creates an experience whereby volunteers are taught how they can make a difference in the lives of the poverty-stricken worldwide.

FALCONS TAKE LOCAL CHILDREN SHOPPING FOR THE HOLIDAYS

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons Rookie Club, sponsored by UnitedHealthcare of Georgia, hosted "Shop with a Pro," on Dec. 16. It is a program offering disadvantaged and homeless children the opportunity to bond while shopping with professional athletes during the holidays. The Atlanta Falcons players provided 35 children from Atlanta Action Ministries each with a $150 gift card and accompanied them at a local sporting goods store at the Mall of Georgia in Buford, GA for an evening of shopping and holiday fun.

BALTIMORE RAVENS INTRODUCE GAMEPLANEARTH INITIATIVE

Ravens players Terrence Brooks, Owen Daniels, Justin Forsett, Gino Gradkowski, and Asa Jackson joined Ravens staff and partnered with Parks & People Foundation to plant trees and remove litter in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood of Baltimore. The tree planting was followed by an environmental information session, attended by Eugene Monroe, Tyrod Taylor and Justin Tucker, and led by Healthy Harbor, a Waterfront Partnership Initiative whose goal is to create a cleaner, greener future for Baltimore's streams and harbor. The first part of the session included a discussion of the "State of Baltimore's Harbor." The group went outside to see how oysters are grown for the Healthy Harbor Oyster Partnership and walked to the Inner Harbor Water Wheel, where inventor and operator John Kellett spoke and answered questions. The events were part of the Ravens' GamePlanEarth, a week of environmental initiatives led by the Ravens to help make Baltimore a more sustainable city.

-- NFL Communications

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