ATHENS — A handful of Georgia Bulldogs gave a bunch of patients at Piedmont Athens Regional Hospital a thrilling surprise Tuesday night.
Elijah Holyfield grabs a poster to hand to a new friend at Piedmont Athens Regional Hospital. (UGA)
Star running back Elijah Holyfield, starting right tackle Isaiah Wilson and defensive tackle Michail Carter were among the Georgia football players who took a break from the grind of preparing for Saturday’s monumental matchup against No. 1 Alabama in the SEC Championship Game to spread a little joy through the hallways and rooms of Northeast Georgia’s largest hospital.
“Just because it brings a lot of joy to us too, seeing people smiling, especially when they’ve been down. It just brings joy to all of us, so whenever we have time to come, we’ll always come,” Holyfield said on the visit.
The players distributed and signed team posters featuring the acronym WIN, “What’s Important Now.” They posed for pictures with patients and hospital staff, played with children, told jokes and generally had a good time during the short visit.
Elijah Holyfield promised 12-year-old Lily that the Bulldogs would play extra hard for her. (Steven Colquitt/UGA)
It was especially fun for the children. Wyatt, 3, was lying in wait in the dark for the players to come into his room. When they did, he used oversized cotton balls to ambush them, which triggered an indoor snowball fight.
Zach, 5, had pipe cleaners in his room, and Gibbs used them to spell out his name and form some Georgia Power G’s.
Lily, 12, had been told some guests were stopping by, but she didn’t know who. When the players came in, she was so overwhelmed that she sat speechless, mouth agape, and began to cry. Holyfield, noticing the Georgia blanket spread across her hospital bed, told her the Bulldogs would play extra hard for her on Saturday.
“I think the little girl, just her face and seeing her, made us all so happy. Stuff like this makes us all so happy,” Holyfield said of his favorite part of the visit.
Nurses and doctors were eager to get a pic with the Bulldogs as well.
Only an hour or so earlier, the Bulldogs had been engaged in a long, grueling, full-contact practice in the Payne Athletic Center in preparation for Saturday’s highly-anticipated rematch against Alabama.
After another practice in Athens on Wednesday, Georgia will move its operations to Atlanta on Thursday. The No. 4-ranked Bulldogs will face Alabama for the league title in Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday at 4 p.m. It will be a rematch of last year’s National Championship Game in the same building in which the Crimson Tide pulled out a thrilling 26-23 victory in overtime.