The St. Louis Rams made the holidays a little brighter for patients of St. Louis Children’s Hospital recently when they took part in the annual Love Light Festival. Quarterback
“Having the opportunity to see those kids and to be able to give them a little piece of what we have was just awesome,” Dunbar said. “Those kids are going through a lot, but they’re still smiling.”
It was the smiles especially that Dunbar and his two teammates noticed the most. Despite their hardships, each of the patients – ranging in age from toddler to teenager – managed to crack a grin during the visit.
“Seeing the smiles on all the kids’ faces once we walked through the door,” McLeod said. “You can just tell we really made their day and doing something like that is special.”
It was a sentiment echoed by his quarterback.
“The smiles are what stay with you the most,” Bradford said.
The Love Light Festival began over 25 years ago and serves as the holiday celebration at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Each child in the hospital receives a bag of gifts and a visit from special guests. The festival culminates with one patient receiving the honor of flipping the switch to light all the Christmas lights in the hospital.
While the Rams players may have been the highlight, kids were also visited by the likes of Daffy Duck and of course, Santa Claus. Kathy Pope, a member of the Children’s Hospital Friends Board, has seen first-hand the impact Love Light – and the celebrities it attracts – can have on patients and families.
“It brings a lot of joy to their days,” Pope said. “As you can imagine, (the kids are) here in the hospital, they’re stuck with needles, they’re having operations performed and it can obviously be a difficult situation for them and their families. But when they see the ‘Sam Bradfords’ of the world taking the time to come down and acknowledge their difficulties and to spread some joy, it makes quite a difference in their lives.”
Bradley Rausch, a patient at Children’s Hospital, says he has been a Rams fan from the Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk days. While he was not feeling great earlier in the day, a visit from Bradford, Dunbar, McLeod and Co. helped perk him up a bit.
“It was awesome having them come in here,” Rausch said. “It really lifted me up – I wasn’t feeling too good before they walked in, but it was great.”
Just as Rausch and the others appreciated a visit from the Rams, the players appreciated the opportunity to meet with the kids and their families. For Bradford, it is because of these opportunities that he calls the Love Light Festival his favorite community outreach event of the year.
“You walk into a room and you see a kid who has cancer, but he has the best attitude in the world,” Bradford said. “I think they do more for us than we do for them. It’s hard to describe.”
Dunbar offered similar sentiments.
“It teaches you to appreciate every day and appreciate the opportunity you have to do things that you love to do,” he said.
Thanks to the Rams’ participation in the Love Light Festival, many kids at St. Louis Children’s Hospital will have a bright holiday season. The effort was greatly appreciated by Pope and all the staff at the facility.
“It shows how invested the Rams are here in our community here in St. Louis, and that they’re really excited about doing something special for the hospital. And we’re very grateful.”