With each patient visited it became more and more difficult to figure out who was more excited – the kids or the players.
"I'm not even thinking about football right now," Jerod Mayo, one of five Patriots who visited with patients at Children's Hospital in Boston as part of Mix 140.1-FM's eighth annual Cares for Kids Radiothon, said.
"My smile was as big as theirs," Leigh Boddenadded.
Mayo paired up with fellow linebacker Rob Ninkovichas the two said hello to the a handful of youngsters and the families. The star of the show was clearly 3-year-old Ashon, who ventured back to his bed with a big fist pump in the air shortly after posing for pictures with the two Patriots. Ashon was just as interested in checking out the pictures after they were taken as he was with the players themselves.
The linebackers also met with babies Madison and Jason. The signed some Patriots books for the children as Mayo joked, "this is the Patriots version of "my baby can read!"
"These kinds of things take so little effort and they wind up being so rewarding for us," said Mayo, who has a 7-month old daughter and another child on the way. "I'm just glad we were able to put some smiles on the kids' faces."
That was the case with Bodden, Patrick Chungand Rob Gronkowskias well. They first met with 6-year-old Faith, who received an early birthday present with the visit. She'll turn 7 on Saturday and said she wanted "a cake party" as her mother informed the players that she'd like to be the Cake Boss someday.
Fifteen-year-old AJ and 14-year-old Jonathan also spent some time with the trio. At 6-1, Jonathan was a standout as he stood next to the 5-11 Chung. "The dude was towering over me," Chung joked as he left the room.
But it was Bodden who seemed to generate the most discussion. He asked if Jonathan would be watching March Madness in the coming weeks and the two discussed their favorite basketball players. When Jonathan mentioned Kobe Bryant, Bodden admitted that he wasn't the biggest fan of the Lakers star and the group enjoyed a laugh.
They posed for some more photos – "for Facebook" according to Chung – and signed autographs before the group headed to the patient entertainment center where the Radiothon was taking place. They field some questions on the air and continued to interact with patients and their families.
"Every room you walked in, they are surprised, and they're happy for us to be there, and talk to them, and get to know them," Bodden said. "There are a lot of March birthdays, so I'm thinking about maybe trying to send them a present. It was great to do something for kids who are less fortunate."
The fund-raiser has produced approximately $3.5 million for Children's Hospital Boston in its first seven years.
"I love kids and I love being around them," Chung said. "It was a lot of fun to interact with them and do something to make them happy."