Tampa Bay Buccaneers

UCH Visit Lifts Spirits of Patients, Bucs

Several Buccaneer players and cheerleaders used their day off Monday to visit the Pediatric Care Center at University Community Hospital, touching hearts during the holidays

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Doctors weren't the only ones making the rounds in the Pediatric Care Center at University Community Hospital on Monday. Several Tampa Bay Buccaneers, including safety Will Allen, safety Jermaine Phillips, guard Jeb Terry and cheerleaders Jeni Summers and Lauren Rudolph, visited the pediatric floor at UCH to wish the patients well for the holidays.

UCH's Pediatric Care Center provides a child-friendly atmosphere with decor designed in partnership with Tampa's Busch Gardens. The Pediatric Care Center is a 29-bed unit that provides primary care for medical and surgical patients, plus observation services for children from infancy to age 21.

In addition, UCH has a five-bed Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, the only provider of sophisticated, critical care services for children in northern Hillsborough and eastern Pasco counties. It is staffed by Pediatric Intensivists, who are physicians specially trained to provide critical care services to children. The Pediatric Emergency Room caters to the special care needs of children and their families, with special waiting and treatment rooms, as well as nurses and pediatric specialists who have received extensive training in treating pediatric emergencies.

The players and cheerleaders stopped by each young patient's room to say hello and wish them happy holidays. Each patient received a photo with the Buccaneers, not to mention a Buccaneers pennant and a Buccaneers cheerleader poster autographed by the Bucs in attendance. The smiles on the kids' faces when the Buccaneers entered their hospital rooms was enough to brighten anyone's holiday.

"To be able to come out here and see the smiles you get from some of the kids out here, it's priceless," said Phillips. "We come here for them, but at the same time it does so much for us and touches our hearts and lets you know what the holidays are all about."

Phillips, whose favorite thing about this time of year is the holiday carols, wouldn't let the visit end without at least one rendition of his favorite classic tune, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Cody, a 16-year-old patient, was the lucky recipient of the serenade, and he watched with a smile on his face through the whole song.

"I thought it was funny," Cody said of the Buccaneers chorus. He indicated that he had heard better versions of the beloved song, but he will still be a Buccaneers fan for their football skills, if not their singing.

"It's a lot of fun; we're enjoying ourselves," Allen said during the visit. "To come out here is a humbling experience, and it makes you realize how fortunate you are for what you have."

Summers, a third-year veteran on the cheerleading squad, agreed that in this instance, it is better to give than to receive.

"It's so nice to see the kids smile and to put a smile on their faces for the holidays," said Summers. "But it's just as thrilling for us to see them get excited."

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