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Bears, Cardinals Mean Smiles

Players take part in annual Teddy Bear Express at local children's hospitals


A young patient tries to give quarterback John Skelton a pom-pom. For a photo gallery, click here.

Sam Acho couldn't get the image out of his mind, the little girl squeezing tight the teddy bear Acho had just delivered, a contented smile on her face.

"It's cool to have that influence on people," the linebacker said.

At a pair of hospitals Tuesday, a contingent of Cardinals made their way into the rooms of sick kids, handing out teddy bears outfitted in Cardinals' shirts and making conversation with children dealing with illness during this holiday season.

At both St. Joseph's Pediatric Clinic and Phoenix Children's Hospital, the Cards were welcomed. At St. Joe's, running back Alfonso Smith, fullback Anthony Sherman and defensive tackle Dan Williams joined Big Red and a pair of cheerleaders. At PCH, it was quarterbacks John Skelton and Ryan Lindley, the special teams unit of Mike Leach, Dave Zastudil and Jay Feely, center Rich Ohrnberger and Acho.

"It is something not everyone can do," Sherman said. "Not everyone can put a smile on a kid's face just walking in and giving them a bear. We are blessed to be able to do that."

The hospital visits are an annual event – although players though the years, like Leach, take time to visit the sick children much more often to the point they know the staff well – and mean a lot.

Ohrnberger came despite suffering a knee injury Sunday that ended his season and forced him to be placed on injured reserve Monday. He showed off his injured leg to one little girl as a show of solidarity between the unhealthy.

"It is important for players to give back and look at people less fortunate for a couple of reasons," Acho said. "It reminds us how fortunate we are, and two, it reminds us we aren't above anything. One of our daughters or sons or relatives could have the same issue."

Sherman began doing such events when he was in college at the University of Connecticut, insisting he never tires of the interaction.

"You don't want to be here (as a kid)," Sherman said, "but they all have a smile on their face. It is awesome to see the joy when we come in."

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