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February 16, 2013

Lions fulfill wishes at THON event

Just weeks after his final tour through the Lasch Building as a recruit, Penn State tight end Adam Breneman spent Saturday afternoon giving the tours.

Along with dozens of his teammates, dressed in their jerseys, the Nittany Lions welcomed Make-A-Wish kids and their families to the football building for a two-hour event as part of THON weekend.

From a guided tour through the players' lounge, the new-and-improved weight room and study hall, to games of tag and an ice cream social in the players' locker room, Nittany Lion senior offensive guard John Urschel said afterward that he hoped to make a small impact on the lives of the children and families he interacted with throughout the day.

"As football players, sometimes it's easy to miss this aspect of being role models to young children, being celebrities in a sense," Urschel said. "Sometimes you can forget about that aspect. And it's important that you embrace that and try to do good with it and try to come out here like the things we've been doing in the past week. Make-A-Wish, making these kids a little bit happier, just making their day. Kids who might have been watching Penn State football since they were born.

"Even just a couple days ago, myself and a couple of teammates we made it to Altoona and the Veteran's Hospital to just come by and let them know how much their service means to us. It's just things like that that we have to go out and do to make positive use of the position that we're in."

Of course, for a group of athletes blessed with incredible physical abilities and talents, Saturday's Make-A-Wish event served as a beneficial activity to more than just the children and their families.

According to redshirt sophomore wide receiver Allen Robinson, seeing kids suffering through the adversities of cancer helps to put his own life and responsibilities into perspective.

"Just thinking about what could happen, nobody knows what tomorrow will bring, so just to be fortunate and always be grateful, I think that's something that I've talked to my family about, how fortunate I am and just to be grateful," he said. "That's why I really want to put in the time with the kids. I'm definitely blessed, so if I can help anybody's day out, that's what I want to do."

Said running back Zach Zwinak, "No matter what we go through, we will never understand what these kids go through. They battle life and death every day, different sicknesses. You look at a player and say he's a strong kind of person. But, these kids are the true heroes and have true strength."

After a year-and-a-half of public scrutiny toward the Penn State football program, the Nittany Lions continue to remain as active and involved in the community as before.

"Even before all that stuff happened, the sanctions and stuff, we were doing this," tight end Kyle Carter said. "It's not like we just started to try to look good.

"It's just the type of school this is. This is the type of kids we have, and you've seen the turnout. It just puts more light on how good the kids are."

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