During the holiday season, New Orleans Saints players take a trip to Ochsner Medical Center to spread cheer and deliver gifts to pediatric and oncology patients. On Tuesday, Dec. 19, the Saints teamed up with punter Thomas Morstead and his foundation, What You Give Will Grow, and along with a few Saintsations strolled the halls of the hospital with Star Wars-themed Santa Claus hats to share a few moments with patients young and old. As they entered the rooms as Santa’s helpers, faces lit up as patients began to realize who their visitors were (Brandon Coleman, Ken Crawley, Coby Fleener, Justin Hardee, Zach Line, Wil Lutz,and Zach Wood all attended). The patients and their families were filled with joy when presented with toys and gift cards to stores and restaurants.
“It’s a great event,” Morstead said. “I think it is nice for these guys that are a part of the team to come out and spread a little Christmas cheer. Everybody is in here for certain reasons. (You have) a kid that’s going through cancer treatment and he’s obviously a long-term (patient). Then you meet somebody that broke their leg and they’re just in here for a few days. It’s just nice to come up here and do something nice for the people going through different tribulations.”
Each patient’s story is different, but they all showed gratitude and appreciation for the Saints and wished them well as they face off with the Atlanta Falcons for an important division contest on Christmas Eve.
After making their rounds and realizing how many patients were fans, Morstead said, “you may see some of our biggest fans in here so that’s kind of cool too. They let us know they are supporting us and how much we mean to them. So it’s pretty cool.”
While making a few stops along the way some patients had been informed that they would be able to go home just in time for the holidays, great news to truly illustrate the meaning of the season.
In 2014, Morstead and his wife started their foundation, What You Give Will Grow. The foundation was created to support the New Orleans community but especially families with children battling with cancer. Through the many efforts of the foundation, the mission is to encourage and inspire others to support through the spirit of giving. For more information visit their website.