DALLAS, TX -- Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops along with the complete Sooners’ team visited patients at the Children’s Medical Center of Dallas on Wednesday afternoon as part of activities surrounding the 77th annual AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic.
John Stuart of the Cotton Bowl Council along with Children’s Medical Center President and CEO Chris Durovich welcomed the Sooners to the Center’s Butterfly Atrium, where the team interacted with patients, signed autographs and took photos. Additionally, OU student-athletes distributed OU visors and hats along with Cotton Bowl memorabilia, including team posters and gift bags. Oklahoma players also visited patients in their rooms, while Stoops joined several in the Ryan Seacrest Foundation’s studio room for interviews.
“Last year we served 200,000 children,” Durovich said comparing the number of patients to three capacities of Cowboys Stadium. “The number of kids that we have provided care to in the past year could fill up that stadium once, empty it out, fill it up again, and empty it out, and there would still be a line. We look forward to cheering you on in the game with the new friends you meet today.”
Junior offensive lineman Austin Woods shared a special connection with the visitors. The Rockwall, Texas, native was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma last spring and went through chemotherapy treatment this past summer as well as during the 2012 season, finding out at the end of October that he was in remission.
Woods continued playing and practicing as the Sooners went on to win a share of the Big 12 title and a berth in the Cotton Bowl. “One of the things I wanted to do after I was diagnosed, because it really opened my eyes to the world of cancer, was to use my platform as an OU football player to help others, especially kids, who are going through the same thing,” Woods said.
Woods also won the Cotton Bowl’s art contest two years in a row while he was in the first and second grades. Blake Bell said the visit is a pleasure and serves as a nice break from thinking about the game.
“It’s awesome for the Cotton Bowl to have us come out here and set something up like this,” Bell said. “Being around the kids helps us get our minds off the game a little bit and also allows us to have some fun. It definitely puts things in perspective.”
“Children should be cared for and protected in every single way and I can tell that is done here,” Stoops noted. “We hopefully can distract the children for a little bit of time, taking them away from their worries and their pains.”
Each year the two participating teams in the Cotton Bowl Classic visit the CMC and the Scottish Rite Hospital as a way of interacting with the community. The Children’s Medical Center is celebrating its 100th year in 2013.