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Players visit kids at Shriners Hospital


Tight end Owen Daniels, tackle Eric Winston and wide receiver David Anderson visited the Shriners Hospital for Children on Tuesday to meet with patients in the orthopaedics wing. The children, in rehab for ailments ranging from cerebral palsy to scoliosis, are members of the players' "Small, Medium and Large" Texans All Community Team (T.A.C.T) program group.

Through the T.A.C.T. program, Texans players donate at least 100 Texans tickets to kids from local charitable organizations, hospitals and schools. Nineteen players participated this season.

The "Small, Medium and Large" group – aptly named after Anderson (5-10, 194), Daniels (6-3, 247) and Winston (6-7, 310) – is distributing 370 Texans tickets this season to Shriners Hospital patients and their families.

"With our position, I think we're responsible to do things like this," Daniels said. "And it's great to come out to this Shriners Hospital and to see kids being this tough – strong, brave kids in the conditions that they're in. It's really inspirational."

The Houston Shriners Hospital is one of 22 Shriners facilities in the United States, Mexico and Canada dedicated to improving the lives of children by providing specialty pediatric care and innovative research and teaching programs.

Children up to the age of 18 with orthopaedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries and cleft lip and palate are eligible for admission and receive their care in a family-centered environment at no charge, regardless of financial need.

{QUOTE}Winston, who spent most of the hour-and-a-half long visit on the floor playing games with pint-sized patients, has been visiting children's hospitals since his days at the University of Miami (Fla.).

"There's just something about them that I really get into," he said. "I think it's just awesome how much good they do here, and the Shriners in general are such an amazing organization that helps so many kids every year in different places around the country. I don't think we could've picked a better organization."

The Texans players spoke with and signed autographs for the patients, most of who were in wheelchairs, wearing casts or laying in hospital beds. Many of the children had just recently undergone surgery and were accompanied by parents or siblings as they worked to overcome their conditions.

Anderson found it easy to break the ice with the children by having them autograph his Texans polo shirt with their names and favorite numbers.

"Sometimes, they get scared to ask us for our autograph," Anderson said. "So I find if you ask them for theirs first, they start asking and then everyone gets into signing because a lot of kids don't want to ask. It just kind of gets the interaction a little easier because sometimes, you don't know what exactly topics to bring up first with kids. Numbers and names and stuff like that are always a simple, good way to start a conversation."

As for the unique name of the players' T.A.C.T group, Anderson explained its origins.

"We wanted to come up with a creative name, not just something like 'Anderson's Catchers' or 'Owen's… whatever,'" Anderson said. "So 'Small, Medium, Large' just kind of fit the group just because Eric's so big and Owen's right in the middle and I'm the tiny one. We just combined and had a good time with it, and it's worked out the best for everyone."

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