MACON, Ga. – The Mercer men’s basketball team took time away from final exams and practice Wednesday afternoon to help spread some Christmas cheer to children at the Beverly Knight Olson Children’s Hospital Navicent Health in downtown Macon.
The players and members of the coaching staff handed out Christmas presents to the children on the General Pediatrics and ICU floors of the hospital. The players also hung up a basketball hoop in one of the rooms and shot hoops with one of the patients; painted and colored with some of the patients and signed autographs. The facility is the only dedicated pediatric hospital in Central and South Georgia.
Two of the Bears’ seniors, Stephon Jelks and Desmond Ringer, were extremely humbled on making a return trip to the hospital. This marked the fourth visit to the facility for these two team leaders.
“The biggest thing I can take from today is to be grateful,” Jelks said. “For health and for everyday opportunities, we need to take advantage of those. It’s amazing to see these kids here and how their spirits are still so high. I made one good friend today. He was ‘my guy.’ He was really energetic and hype. It was a really humbling experience to be able to interact with him and spend time with him.”
“It is always a humbling an experience to come here,” Ringer stated. “It makes you extremely thankful to be able to play the game of basketball because as you see when you come here, not everyone has that opportunity. I take away the same things every year. I guess I just try to make more of the kids smile every year. My favorite part of the day was meeting this one young kid, he said he was a football player and he just had the biggest smile on his face when we walked in the room. That’s what it is all about.”
Mercer, 6-4 on the season, returns to action this Sunday, Dec. 17, when the Bears travel to Philadelphia, Pa., to take on La Salle. Tipoff time is 4:30 p.m.