Nine Ohio State football players spent two hours at the Ronald McDonald House of Columbus on Friday afternoon interacting with Nationwide Children’s Hospital patients and their families.
Junior quarterback Kyle McCord and eight midyear enrollees – transfers Ja’Had Carter and Vic Cutler and freshmen Jelani Thurman, Luke Montgomery, Joshua Padilla, Austin Sierveld, Miles Walker and Malik Hartford – hung out with children who are currently living at the house, helped them decorate cookies and gave them cards as part of a Valentine’s Day celebration hosted by the Ronald McDonald House, which houses out-of-town families of children who are undergoing care at the nearby Nationwide Children’s Hospital and other hospitals around Columbus.
The players’ visit to the Ronald McDonald House was arranged by Cohesion Foundation, an NIL collective that partners with Ohio State athletes and pays them to promote and participate in events with local charitable organizations.
“This is the first event I've done with them, and I’m really at a loss for words for how impactful it was,” said McCord. “They did a great job of setting it up and getting us all together, and it was a great time.”
McCord bonded with a young boy named Jonathan during the players’ visit to the house and said the event also helped him bond with his new teammates, as McCord was the only returning Buckeye in attendance.
“It's awesome to come here with some teammates and just create bonds that you wouldn't otherwise,” McCord said. “I think this is a great event to kind of get them outside the Woody, experience the Columbus area and just kind of build the brotherhood a little bit.”
Carter also made a new friend during the visit and said it brought joy to him to spend time with the kids in attendance.
“With my man over there, we made cookies,” Carter said, pointing to a boy he hung out with during the visit. “It’s always good to see kids smile. So definitely, like, that's something I like doing, you know, giving back and hanging with the guys.”
Walker said the trip to the Ronald McDonald House made Columbus feel more like home.
“For me personally, like back home, my dad used to, he worked at the Boys & Girls Club in our town. So I used to go around there and just hang out with some of the kids,” Walker said. “So it brings back some memories, makes here feel like home. So it's definitely fun.”
The smiles on the faces of the children at the event made it clear they enjoyed having the opportunity to spend time with some of the Buckeyes.
“What we saw today was truly lifting the spirits of kids who are going through a tough time,” said Ryan Wilkins, the chief marketing officer for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio. “When the guys took the little kids and put them on their shoulder and you could see the joy in their faces, that's what it's all about. They're able to do something that nothing else can do, which is just lift their spirits, which is exactly what those kiddos need.”
Wilkins could tell the visit was meaningful to the players who made the trip, too.
“This is an eye-opening experience, to be exposed to kids who are going through a tough time, and I talked to a few of them afterward and they really felt moved by it,” Wilkins said. “So I’m so honored to be able to be a part of that.”
You can check out photos from the visit – on which the Buckeyes also toured the house – in the gallery at the top of the page and hear more of what McCord, Carter and Walker had to say about the visit and about football in the videos above.