• U.S. Army All-American athletes take time to toss the pigskin and talk with Val Uria and her son David, during a visit to the Methodist Children's Hospital in San Antonio, Jan. 2, 2013.

    All-American Athletes Inspire Children

    U.S. Army All-American athletes take time to toss the pigskin and talk with Val Uria and her son David, during a visit to the Methodist Children's Hospital in San Antonio, Jan. 2, 2013.

  • Jim Cooper, an Army All-American kicker from Lynwood, N.J., takes time to sign footballs during a visit to the Methodist Children's Hospital, Jan. 2, 2013, in San Antonio. The nation's top high school football players took time out from training for the bowl game to visit area children at the hospital.

    All-American Athletes Inspire Children

    Jim Cooper, an Army All-American kicker from Lynwood, N.J., takes time to sign footballs during a visit to the Methodist Children's Hospital, Jan. 2, 2013, in San Antonio. The nation's top high school football players took time out from training for...

  • U.S. Army All-American athletes take time to talk with Janie Ramirez and her son Jesse, during a visit to the Methodist Children's Hospital, Jan. 2, 2013, in San Antonio.

    All-American Athletes Inspire Children

    U.S. Army All-American athletes take time to talk with Janie Ramirez and her son Jesse, during a visit to the Methodist Children's Hospital, Jan. 2, 2013, in San Antonio.

  • Officials at the Methodist Children's Hospital welcome football standouts of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl during a visit Jan. 2, 2013, in San Antonio. The nation's top high school football players took time out from training to visit area children at the hospital.

    All-American Athletes Inspire children

    Officials at the Methodist Children's Hospital welcome football standouts of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl during a visit Jan. 2, 2013, in San Antonio. The nation's top high school football players took time out from training to visit area children...

SAN ANTONIO (Jan. 3, 2012) -- To be considered one of the top high school football players in the nation is not just about the game. The players chosen to participate in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl mirror the strength and values of Army Strong Soldiers.

The strength that comes with being a U.S. Army Soldier is more than physical, it is also mental as well as emotional, and the Bowl is another chance for the Army to help strengthen America's youth by providing options and opportunities few other organizations can.

The top priority for the Solider is service -- not just service to the country, but service to the community. All-American Bowl players had the chance to experience the pride of giving back during their recent visit to the Methodist Children's Hospital, here.

"We consider it an honor to have these young athletes come visit with our children," said Mark McLoone, Chief Executive Officer for Methodist Children's Hospital and Women's Services. "They're an inspiration and hopefully, it will provide them with a reward as well; and they understand that they are giving something back.

For many of the children in the hospital, it was a break in the monotony of their everyday routines. Having an opportunity to meet guys a little older than them gives them a sort of hope and it is an experience that helps life feel a little more normal for the children and their caregivers, McLoone said.

This community outreach program has been a part of the Bowl for several years now. Jennifer Hipsley, director of Child Life Services, said it's a special treat for the patients and it's awesome that the Army is doing this.

"It definitely has a positive effect and it shows them [the children] that hard work and determination pays off," Hipsley said. "Here they are, just football players, but they are becoming heroes to the kids in the hospital."

The kids weren't the only people smiling. The staff and the parents were equally as excited. The players, most of them more than six feet tall, seemed to have the same reaction -- they talked about being blessed to be able to visit with the patients. Compassion showed over all their faces.

"I love hanging around them [the children]. I like to spend time with my nephew and my younger cousins, so this is really a blessing and an honor. I'll never forget it," said Tim Perkins, a player on the U.S. Army All-American West Team, from Lake Highlands High School in Dallas.

Page last updated Fri January 4th, 2013 at 07:24