Carolina Panthers Stars Visit Children’s Hospital in Halloween Costumes
The Carolina Panthers’ rookie class traded their football uniforms Tuesday for Halloween costumes to visit families at a local children’s hospital.
The 11 members of the Panthers’ rookie class spent nearly two hours visiting kids one-on-one and partaking in Halloween traditions like pumpkin carving with patients at the Levine Children’s Hospital at the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte.
The Halloween visit from rookies is a 13-year tradition for the Panthers. Just before the event each year, the team lays out costumes in the visitors’ locker room as they would football uniforms on game days.
The players then each pick out their own costume.
“You’ve got these world-class athletes and within 15 minutes the locker room has been transformed into this place of costumed characters,” Riley Fields, the Panthers’ director of community relations, told ABC News.
This year, the team’s top draft pick, defensive tackle Vernon Butler, dressed as what the team called a “Super Toddler.” Former Duke University standout Jeremy Cash dressed as Captain America, while Oklahoma alumnus picked a Mr. Incredible costume.
Cornerback, James Bradberry dressed as Spider-man, particularly bonding with one young patient who was more impressed with his costume than with Bradberry’s NFL stats.
“I’m just Spider-man today, so I get to influence them by being a superhero,” Bradberry told Panthers.com. “He didn’t really care about who I was as a person, but he wanted me to be Spider-man, so that’s who I was.”
The players also handed out candy to children on four floors of the hospital and delivered treats like Panthers hats and signed footballs.
“The guys really understand what their role is for that day, to bring needed diversion to families in challenging circumstances,” Fields said. “We’ll bring Halloween to them.”
The outing also helps the rookies bond, according to Fields.
“They’re all trying to make adjustments to life in the NFL so when you can provide time for them to share together, it really helps,” he said.