Bucs K Martin Gramatica followed up a great Sunday afternoon with a wonderful Monday morning trip to Shriners Hospital
On Monday, Martin Gramatica was coming off what might have been the greatest game of his NFL career. However, he didn't waste any time basking in his own glory. Instead, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Pro Bowl kicker spent the morning visiting with children at the Shriners Hospital on the campus of the University of South Florida.
The Tampa Shriners Hospital is a 58-bed pediatric orthopaedic hospital providing comprehensive orthopaedic care to children at no charge. The Tampa Hospital, which accepts and treats children with routine and complex orthopaedic problems, is one of 22 Shriners Hospitals throughout North America. The facility is designed to incorporate state-of-the-art equipment and advanced treatment programs with the Shriners Hospitals' family-centered care approach. The Tampa Shriners Hospital has provided care to more than 21,000 children since its opening in October 1985.
And sometimes, guests such as Gramatica visit the hospital to spread a little cheer.
"I like coming to see the kids and the smile on their faces," said Gramatica. "Whether you win or lose, they still smile and they're happy that you are here. Fortunately, we got a win, so it's a little easier to get out of bed in the morning, but it's just great to see the kids' faces."
As he first entered the Child Life Activity Center at Shriners on Monday, an area that features a library, jukebox, pool tables, library and arts and crafts center, Martin was greeted by an excited young fan. The young man knew quite a bit about the Bucs' kicker, including the fact that he has a brother who also plays in the NFL. Impressed, Gramatica asked the young man if he knew who the person standing next to him was. Unfortunately for Santiago Gramatica, Martin's other brother and the kicker at USF, the young man hadn't yet heard of the youngest of the three Gramatica brothers.
As the visit progressed, Martin spent time with several kids at the hospital, speaking in equal parts English and Spanish to the diverse patients, some of whom have traveled from as far as Honduras for the treatment that the Shriners Hospital provides.
Passing out posters, signing autographs and chatting with all the patients took most of Martin's morning. His visit was greatly appreciated.
"It's very special for the kids and it's a great way to start out the week on a Monday morning, to have him come out after so much effort that he's put forth in winning the game," said Alicia Argiz-Lyons, the Director of Public Relations and Volunteers at Shriners. "The kids were able to watch him yesterday during the game and it gives them inspiration and incentive to perform better when they're having therapy. Having him take the time to come out and visit them makes their day much brighter."
The therapeutic effects of such a visit usually work both ways, and that was certainly the case for Gramatica. His morning spent at the Shriners Hospital made an already good Monday even better.
"You just have to thank God for what we have," said Gramatica. "When you come out and see the kids and what they go through, you can't even compare what they go through here to what we go do in a football game or football season. It's just great to sees the smile on their faces when you sign an autograph or give them a poster. It just makes my day."