Thirteen members of the Colgate football team recently visited the Upstate Medical Hospital in Syracuse, where they met with pediatric patients being treated for cancer and sickle cell anemia. Colgate linebacker sophomore Greg Hadley had been organizing the trip since winter break. He has a personal connection with the hospital, as his sister was treated for cancer there ten years ago.
“When she was sick, the Syracuse basketball team used to come to the children’s wing and hang out with the kids,” Hadley said. “Everyone always loved it and I know it helped my sister get through a rough week she may have been having. When I learned they didn’t do that anymore, I thought the football team needed to get up there.”
The players spent the day with the patients, signing autographs and giving out football shirts, hats and Raider bobble-head dolls. Hadley collaborated with Colgate Bookstore Senior Buyer Nathaniel Biddle, who agreed to donate stuffed animals and books for them to share with the children.
Defensive back first-year Mike Barry shared his reasons for going on the trip.
“My mom had cancer when I was younger, so I think I know how the kids may have been feeling,” Barry said. “I wanted to put a smile on their faces by being with them. It made me feel good to see them happy after all they’re going through. Some of the kids had been fighting cancer for a long time and to give them a little surprise and get them to smile was very rewarding to me.”
Quarterback junior Alex Relph shared this sentiment.
“It was amazing to see the resilience of these kids, some of whom were truly in pain but still made an effort to talk with us,” Relph said.
Offensive Line Coach Casey Vogt, who has been with Colgate since July, accompanied the players on the trip. He said that the visit to the hospital was the first of this nature that the football team had done since he started.
The trip is being seen as a positive turn for the team, which came under heavy scrutiny in December after two players were arrested in connection to a larceny attempt in Russell House. For now, legal action in the case is still pending.
The players have expressed the desire to continue this philanthropic trend, and are discussing the possibility of doing something locally. Hadley said that he would like to bring more of his teammates back to the hospital again before the school year ends, as well as in the summer when they will be on campus training for the fall season.
“It was nice to get a chance to talk with them and see how they are coming along in their treatment,” Hadley said. “I’d like to think we made their day a little more bearable.”