DALLAS, TX (WAFF) - As the Crimson Tide continue their focus on winning against Michigan State in Thursday's Cotton Bowl, players took time Monday to put their attentions on those facing their own battles.
Following practice on Monday, the Alabama players paid a visit to the Dallas Children's Medical Center - offering the team a chance to put a smile on the faces of kids that could use the extra cheer in the new year.
When asked about their planned visit earlier in the day, the mere mention of the children made the players' faces light up. Clearly, the trip meant something to them as well.
"I think it's great to go in there and see their face light up," said defensive lineman A'Shawn Robinson. "It's a warm feeling in your heart, just makes you so happy."
"Just going in there... can go a long way for them or help them get better in some sort of way," added linebacker Reggie Ragland.
The players, including Heisman winner Derrick Henry, quickly realized what they play is merely a game and that patients like Michael Martin are fighting a far greater opponent.
"We're using the opportunity God has given us to go out and play football. We know due to circumstances, they wish they could play, too," said Alabama linebacker Denzel Devall.
With few team activities on the schedule for Alabama this week, the hospital visit proved to be a special treat for everyone concerned - patient and player alike.
More than 360,000 patients come to Children's Hospital every year for treatments, such as a simple eye test to specialized care like heart disease and cystic fibrosis.
Goodyear, a sponsor of this year's Cotton Bowl, donated $10,000 to Children's during Alabama's visit. Coach Nick Saban then made a matching donation.