New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton's Play it Forward Foundation teamed up with Basket of Hope to deliver 250 gift baskets to Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans Monday afternoon.
Payton helped deliver "Super Baskets of Hope" to pediatric patients and their families throughout the medical facility.
Upon arrival, the New Orleans Saints Head Coach was whisked to the pediatric ward at Ochsner where he visited with 25 young patients from newborns to teenagers and their families. In addition to Payton providing his support, compassion and best wishes, each patient received a basket filled with toys, board games, stuffed animals and books designed to give them some fun and respite from their illnesses, while parents received inspirational and faith-based publications to help them with their challenges.
"With each room there is a different story and face, but a common theme," said Payton. "To have a small part in Baskets of Hope today is pretty amazing."
The baskets were initially filled and packaged by 100 volunteers, including Black and Gold linebackers Chris Chamberlain and Will Herring on February 2 at De La Salle High School in preparation for delivery day, coordinated by Super Baskets of Hope, a national project involving both local communities and the NFL. Through the support of the organization and its local chapter, these gift baskets were made possible with the contributions of several local sponsors, including the Play it Forward Foundation.
Payton was especially excited to be able to make this appearance at Ochsner, to show appreciation to their staff for their help when their doctors performed surgery on him in 2011 following a leg injury suffered in an on-field collision.
"It didn't seem like it was too long ago that I had my surgery here," recounted Payton. "They do a great job of taking care of patients here. Everybody's in here for a reason, but you can tell how they feel more at ease after you spend 10 minutes talking to them. It changes up the routine for the patients and their families and hopefully it helps them with their therapy and progress."
The foundation, launched by Payton in 2008, has been a way for the head coach to give back to the community that has embraced him since his arrival in 2006. Since its inception, the foundation has raised over two million dollars, with the funds being aimed at helping Gulf South families in need in the areas of health, education and social welfare. Today's partnership and appearance fit the bill for where they look to make an impact.
"We're constantly looking to work with charities that do what we have in mind with our mission statement," said Payton. "To impact and help children, particularly in the Gulf Coast, is really what we set forth to do."