Larry Fitzgerald managed to sneak up on the kids stealthily, but when he suddenly appeared -- pushing a cart full of autographed footballs -- it was easy to hear the youthful screams of joy.
"You come around the corner, it's 'Who is that? I saw a silhouette,' " the Cardinals wide receiver said. "Then they show you some love. It's exciting, to see those smiles on those young people's faces."
Fitzgerald was at the Dick's Sporting Goods Tempe location, just down the street from the Dignity Health Arizona Cardinals Training Center, as part of a surprise shopping spree for 14 underprivileged children. Dick's Foundation Sports Matter had awarded Fitzgerald's own First Down Fund a $250,000 grant, a chunk of which has gone to provide 342 scholarships for kids to attend Fitzgerald's ProCamp over the weekend.
The scholarships include not only camp attendance, but autographed souvenirs and tickets to Saturday's Arizona State-Arizona baseball game -- before which Fitzgerald will throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
"(Dick's) has gone over and above," Fitzgerald said. "They've always shown a lot of love for the community."
The 14 special kids chosen for Friday night's surprise were originally supposed to get $100 to spend, but another surprise dropped when they were told the amount would jump to $200.
"When they told them they had $200 to spend, I haven't heard a roar like that since I walked off the field on Sunday," Fitzgerald said.
At the beginning of the week, Fitzgerald stood in front of NFL owners to underscore the need for those men and women to be mentors and role models for the young men playing on their teams. He also noted that players themselves always needed to remember they were role models to young kids.
Then Friday, Fitzgerald was practicing what he preached.
"You've got to do your part," Fitzgerald said. "These young people, they look up to us and you've got to set a good example. I just want to make a positive impact on these young folks."
Larry Fitzgerald, in conjunction with Dick's Sporting Goods and Fitz's own First Down Fund, gave a handful of kids a $200 shopping spree at Dick's.