Created:Saturday, December 29, 2012 8:22 p.m.CDT
Updated:Sunday, December 30, 2012 6:46 p.m.CDT

NIU players make visit to Baptist Children's Hospital


MIAMI — To Northern Illinois head coach Rod Carey, Saturday's visit to Baptist Children's Hospital in southern Miami really puts things in perspective for the Huskies.

Carey and a group of about 15 Huskie players took some time out of their day to travel to the hospital and visit with patients. NIU's players walked to different rooms introduced themselves and tried to brighten up the day for the kids, even if it was just for a few minutes.

The Huskie players were, of course, decked out in their school's clothing, but they were able to give some gear to each patient as well. And the players were also to pose for pictures.

"It was real fun seeing the kids, talking to them for a minute and visiting with them," defensive tackle Nabal Jefferson said. "Giving them the gifts with the hat and the shirt telling them that we're going to playing (in the Orange Bowl). It was awesome to kind of brighten their day."

The group wasn't able to stay with each patient for very long, but NIU defensive end George Rainey said the kids at the hospital were happy to have the new visitors.

"I think as a whole everyone was excited that we were able to come in and see them," Rainey said. "We affected them all."

Orange Bowl week will certainly be something to remember for anyone involved with NIU who made the trip down to south Florida. There's the fact the team is staying at the luxurious Fontainebleau Hotel, the media attention the Huskies have garnered ever since it was announced they would be going to Miami to play Florida State in the Orange Bowl and the beach parties.

Carey said making the visit made the group who went sit back and remember what they have.

"It puts things in perspective. Staying at a big fancy hotel and getting driven around by a bunch of police cars, and these kids are in here fighting for their lives in some cases," Carey said. "So it makes you feel fortunate for what you have, but also, you hope to brighten some days and kind of lifst some spirits for sure."

Next week, Alabama will visit Baptist Children's Hospital when the Crimson Tide are in town to play in the BCS National Championship Game. One Orange Bowl participant visits Baptist every bowl season, and the Miami Heat come once a year as well.

Carey felt his team really enjoyed being at the hospital and helping out. The kids weren't the only ones with smiles on their faces.

"They were happy. Happy to be here and excited," Carey said. "Our kids are good, they get this. This isn't about the media, this isn't about them. This is about the kids we're coming to see."

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