Auburn's Shon Coleman high-fives a young fan at Children's Hospital
By Charles Goldberg
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. ― The dad wore an Alabama shirt. Rudy Ford and Marcus Davis wore a smile, using their celebrity as Auburn football players to brighten the day of a young patient during a visit to Children's Hospital of Alabama on Monday.
Sure enough, JaCoby Richardson, age 12, followed Ford and Davis out of his room to ask for an autograph.
The winner? Patients and athletes alike after three dozen-or-so Auburn and Memphis players visited the hospital as part of the activities leading up to Wednesday's Birmingham Bowl at Legion Field. There were the familiar names as more Auburn starters than not made the trip. Every Auburn quarterback was there. Among the Memphis' players was QB Paxton Lynch, who will be an early NFL draft pick.
One day after another learning experience, a visit to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute to learn of the past, the players visited the young patients at Children's to bring some good cheer.
"This is the most meaningful thing I think we do this week," said Auburn offensive lineman Alex Kozan. "Ten years from now, probably no one will even remember we were in the Birmingham Bowl, but I bet you most of these kids will remember football players visiting them. Whenever you can give back, it's a great thing to do. I'm glad I did it."
Defensive lineman Dontavius Russell also said he enjoyed his visit.
"It's always nice to meet Auburn fans. They're nice people," he said.
And the Alabama fans?
"They're still nice people."
"It's mainly about the children.
"I just hope I was able to give them some joy in their day. It was good for me to see children, who may not be in the best situation, to have joy. It felt good to be able to do that."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine