By Clarence E. Hill Jr.
Dallas _ The Dallas Cowboys did their annual hospital visits on Monday, hoping to put some smiles on the faces of sick children at four hospitals across the area.
But one day after beating the Pittsburg Steelers to move into a first-place tie in the NFC East, the Cowboys were the ones who felt rewarded by just being to able to spend time with children facing much larger challenges than winning a football game.
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo was one of 28 players who visited Children's Medical Center of Dallas. He met bright-eyed Tia, 7, an Argyle native who as schedule to have heart surgery later in the day as well.
"She is adorable," said Romo is now an official member of "Team Tia". She has personality. We will really be praying for her as she goes through surgery."
Tia's parents, Nicole and John Hackett, along with the rest of the family, passed out pink "Team Tia" shirts to the players, including Romo.
“It’s phenomenal,” Nicole Hackett said. “It’s very high stress besides Christmas and the impending surgery, so this is a great way to relax a little bit, take a deep breath and have some smiles. It’s really great. This was a phenomenal experience. "
Romo has always enjoyed doing the annual hospital but admitted being a new father makes him a little more appreciative while putting things in better perspective.
"As a father it changes you a little, just a sense of how much you really care," Romo said. "You don't realize how much you care about your son or daughter until you have them. (Seeing the kids) put things in perspective very fast. We are blessed to be able to do what we do. We play a game for a living. The thing a lot of us take advantage is health, to be able to walk. That is a blessing by itself. To come here and see kids who can't do that sort of thing, it makes you want to make them smile and brighten their day a little bit, especially this time of year."
Running back DeMarco Murray agreed with Romo even though he showed no mercy in beating one of the children in a game of Connect 4. Romo lost to the same child, ironically suffering his first defeat in December this year.
Murray, of course, had a little advantage because he downloaded the Connect 4 app on his phone and plays all the time.
Murray, who also spent time helping little girl paint, said the players got as much out of spending time with the kids as did the patients.
"It's great to be able to come out here and bless kids," Murray said. "It's a special gift that we are blessed with and God blessed us with. Just to give back and spend time with these kids is awesome. We are trying to put a smile on kids faces. It gives you a spark, not only about football but about life, seeing these guys battle. What we do is very different than the challenges they are facing. It makes you so thankful life and not complain about anything."