UK HealthCare

Football Players Bring Homecoming Spirit to Kentucky Children's Hospital

Photo of Sawyer Smith handing football to toddler
Courtney Love hands football to young patient

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 9, 2019) – The week of homecoming is a big deal at the University of Kentucky; events, parades and tailgating throughout the week lead up to the big game against the University of Arkansas. It's an exciting time to be on campus, and for the second year in a row, UK football players and cheerleaders are bringing that excitement to the patients at Kentucky Children's Hospital (KCH).

Last year, UK football tight end CJ Conrad stopped by KCH to visit with patients every Tuesday morning. They would play games, make slime in the playroom or just hang out. "Tuesdays with CJ" became a favorite event, and even though CJ has graduated and moved on, the tradition continues with "Tuesdays with the Wildcats."

“It’s been awesome to take what CJ Conrad started last year and continue visiting the Kentucky Children’s Hospital each Tuesday," said director of player development and former UK linebacker Courtney Love. "Our team really enjoys visiting with the kids and their families. For just a couple of hours each Tuesday, they can forget about their illnesses and just have fun making slime or playing catch in the hallway. We hope this partnership with UK Football and the Kentucky Children’s Hospital lasts for a long, long time.”

"CJ's visits meant so much to our patients, and we're thrilled that Courtney has picked up his torch and continues with the weekly visits," said KCH Child Life Coordinator Jennifer Guilliams. "Homecoming is such a special time on campus, and the football players and cheerleaders bring the excitement and spirit of UK to our patients."

Joining Love was quarterback Sawyer Smith, kicker Matt Ruffolo and offensive lineman Luke Fortner. They signed footballs, played games and handed out swag to patients and their families.

Conrad's visits started in part because he was inspired by the work Love did for the Central Kentucky community. In 2017, Love was awarded the Wuerffel Trophy, an award that honors college football's top community servant. While a student at UK, Love spent countless hours mentoring children living in one parent households or had parents who are incarcerated.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion three years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" two years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for four straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.