Raiders Bring Holiday Spirit to Hospital

The Oakland Raiders visited patients and distributed gifts at Kaiser Permanente – San Leandro Medical Center Tuesday morning. RB Darren McFadden, WR Brice Butler and CBs DJ Hayden, Tarell Brown and Taiwan Jones spent time with patients in several departments, bringing joy to the families during the holiday season.

The players met new parents, a man who had learned he was cancer free just two days before, a patient who survived after nearly passing away a few days earlier, and many more patients who appreciated the visit from members of the local team.

"It was amazing. We saw a guy that is cancer free. Saw a guy that is healthy right now, but he said he was almost gone the other day. We saw a lot of things," said Butler. "For me, it just puts things in perspective that the life I'm living has nothing to really complain about. God has been good to me in my life. God has been good to these people too in these hospitals; they're still here. The people here don't take that for granted. The guy that said that he was almost passed away the other day, he was like, 'man, I'm here.' Talking to DJ and TJ and T. Brown and all those guys after, they were just like, 'man, this is fun, this is a good event.' I guess it opened our eyes a little bit."

It was important for Butler and his teammates to put smiles on the patients' faces during the holiday season because that is often the toughest time to spend in the hospital. "I think it means so much to them," said McFadden. "They might not have that many visitors come through. With it being the holiday season, you want to have family and friends come around, and being able to see some of the Raiders players come in and being big fans of the Raiders, people really enjoy it."

The Raiders visited patients at Kaiser Permanente - San Leandro Medical Center.

Hayden is no stranger to what it feels like to be in a hospital bed for days on end. The second-year cornerback had life-saving heart surgery in 2012. It meant a little extra for him to be able to spend time at the hospital Tuesday. "I know what they feel like being in the bed," said Hayden. "I definitely know that feeling and know some of that pain. Just to see the smile on someone's face that's probably been in the bed all day, mind has probably been racing, they've probably been in the slumps all day…for us to come in there and make them smile a little bit, it's probably the highlight of their day. For that little piece of happiness, it's cool to me."

The impact of the visit seemed to be as significant to the players as it was to the patients. "It's been so surreal," said Brown. "Just getting the opportunity to come here, see people that are in dire need, just getting through on the day-to-day in life. We deal with a lot on and off the field, but coming here, it makes our job so much easier because we know that people are dealing with stuff that's so much bigger than football."

Jones was moved by the people he met at Kaiser. "Today is definitely a humbling day," said Jones. "It just reminds you how blessed you are. Just seeing [the man who is cancer free] and hearing his story, it's crazy. Like I said, it's a humbling experience. I'm happy for him and his family. It looks like Christmas came early for him."

All five of the Raiders enjoy giving back throughout the year, but it meant just a little bit more during the holidays. "You have to give back during the holiday season. It's the holiday season for giving," said Hayden. "Us coming here, showing our faces, taking pictures, giving footballs, hats, shirts, whatever, it's all good making other people happy."

The Raiders were able to, just for a minute, help the people they spent time with forget their struggles. "It's everything. Not just the holidays, any time you can give back, it's a great feeling," said Butler. "It always feels good to pour out into people rather than people pouring into you, especially being here at the hospital. I'm not here every day so I don't know what's going on, but I'm pretty sure it's not easy for the people in here that are sick or struggling with things. It's just a blessing to see those guys' worlds just stop for a little bit and they don't have to worry about anything."

The patients, their families and the hospital staff were excited and smiling. It was a great feeling for Brown and his teammates. "I love doing things like this. Holiday time it's always good to see people and just give them that blessing and just let them know that it's about them," said Brown.

"Just coming here, I'm always reminded how blessed I am and for me to come here and share my blessings and put smiles on people's faces and just give people something to smile and be happy about during this holiday season, it's always a blessing for me," added Jones.

Whether it was sharing in the joy of good news of a baby being born or learning a patient is cancer-free or if it was giving someone fighting for their life something to smile about for just a moment, the Raiders players left a lasting impression on the people of Kaiser Permanente – San Leandro Medical Center.

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