Georgia players, coaches visit patients at children’s hospital in New Orleans

The Georgia Bulldogs completed their fourth day of on-site preparation for the Sugar Bowl with a closed practice. But before they got down to business, they spread a little holiday cheer.

Members of the team accompanied head coach Kirby Smart on a visit to Oschner Medical Center. There they visited with families room-to-room while also talking and playing games with patients and kids in a commons areas.

It is a UGA tradition to visit sick children whenever they play on the road. The No. 5-ranked Bulldogs (11-2) play No. 7 Baylor (11-2) on Wednesday night at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

“It's great to find out what you're fighting for sometimes,” Smart said. “Sometimes we take for granted how good we've got it and I know our players love to give back at every opportunity. It's amazing to see how you can be having a bad day or a long day or things aren't going your way and you walk in the hospital spend time with a child who's in here over the holidays and it brings so much humility to me and our team.”

Channel 2 Sports Director Zach Klein is following the team in New Orleans. Watch Channel 2 Action News all week for Sugar Bowl updates.

Making for a particularly touching scene was Georgia seniors Tyler Simmons and Charlie Woerner praying with Tiffany Ruis of New Orleans and her 6-month-old daughter Rose toward the end of the visit. Woerner’s prayer could not be overheard, but whatever he said left both Ruis and Simmons with tears in their eyes.

Woerner, a senior tight end from Tiger, Ga., spent a lot of time praying for a lot of families. So much so that a teammate had to say, “come on, Charlie, we’ve got to go,” as the Bulldogs were boarding their bus to return to the team hotel.

Other scenes at the hospital included tight end Eli Wolf playing peek-a-boo with 8-month-old Harlem Williams, and cornerback Eric Stokes playing with a train set along with two little boys.

The highlight for 5-year-old Preston Parham was getting a football from Smart, who told him to take it to over to defensive lineman Jordan Davis and freshman George Pickens to get it signed.

“You’ll want their autographs,” Smart told the kid.

This article was written by Chip Towers, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.