TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl players made new friends today at Children’s of Alabama (PHOTOS)

Football players and Children's of Alabama patient
It’s not every day Cincinnati running back Charles McClelland gets tackled by a girl this happy to see him. Photo via Sharron Swain for Bham Now

It’s not every day college football players 3 days out from a bowl game visit children in the hospital, but that’s exactly what happened today in Birmingham at Children’s of Alabama. Players from Boston College and Cincinnati stopped into hospital rooms bringing gifts and good cheer.

Read on for all the details.

1. Boston College and Cincinnati play in the TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl January 2.

Boston College players at Children's
These guys from Boston College were surprised at how warm it is down here in Birmingham. Photo via Sharron Swain for Bham Now

Boston College and Cincinnati are in town for the TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl this coming Thursday. If you want to check out the game, here are the details:

To get warmed up for the game, on Wednesday you can check out the Uptown Street Fest and Pep Rally:

  • What: Uptown Street Fest and Pep Rally 
  • Where: 2221 Richard Arrington Junior Boulevard North, Birmingham, AL 35203
  • When: Wednesday, January 1, 1-6PM
  • Hosted by: TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl
  • Admission: FREE and open to all
Cincinnati players at Children's of Alabama
These Cincinnati players were excited to go visit kids at the hospital. Photo via Sharron Swain for Bham Now

2. The players brought gifts to young people at Children’s.

Gifts and visits from football players at Children's of Alabama
A wagon filled with Boston College and Cincinnati t-shirts, footballs, books, games and toys for all ages. Photo via Sharron Swain for Bham Now

The first order of business, after representatives of both teams arrived, was a welcome in the gorgeous downstairs lobby of Children’s of Alabama. One of the speakers reminded the football players that to the kids they were about to visit, they are heroes.

This helped get all the players, who’ve already been busy practicing for Thursday’s game, in the mood to go spread some good cheer.

3. Watching the players bring smiles and good cheer to young patients’ faces was truly heartwarming.

Football players giving signed footballs at Children's of Alabama
This guy, who gets to go home today, got a signed football. Photo via Sharron Swain for Bham Now

After gathering in the lobby, various players and media representatives divided up into groups, accompanied by staff of Children’s of Alabama. Our group got to hang out with two Boston College players and one Cincinnati player:

4. Here’s what the players thought about their visit to Children’s of Alabama.

Football players at Children's of Alabama
All the guys visiting with a high school patient. Photo via Sharron Swain for Bham Now

It was fun watching them hang out with the kids. Afterwards, I asked them how it was for them. Here’s what they had to say:

“I really liked the experience. Seeing all these kids with smiles on their faces kind of helped us out too.”

Danny Longman, Boston Collage

“Around the holidays, it’s great to visit—especially people in need of a smile or a laugh and being able to give gifts. It’s the time of year, so it’s great to do that wherever we are. This is our family, on the road together, so to extend that family to people in need or just anybody in general—it was a great time.”

John Tessitore, Boston College

“What I liked about it was it was new—I never experienced it before. It was pretty fun, got to meet kids, see what their world is for a day. I got to make a new bff.”

Charles McClelland, Cincinnati

5. You can still get in on the New Year’s football action.

TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl football players made new friends today at Children's of Alabama
Can you tell I really love this picture of the TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl Championship trophy right next to Vulcan? Photo via Facebook

If you want to get in on the TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl action and see these big-hearted guys play, we’ve got some resources for you:

Tell us, Birmingham, are you headed to the TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl? Tag us on social @bhamnow and let us know. We hope to see you there!