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USC players visit El Paso Children's Hospital

By Paul Cicala, PCicala@kvia.com
Published On: Dec 30 2012 02:16:33 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 14 2014 09:22:24 PM CST

KVIA ABC-7 Sports Director Paul Cicala shadows USC players in El Paso as they visit sick kids at the local children's hospital. It's part of all the Sun Bowl week activities. See story as-it-aired on ABC-7 in El Paso/Juarez/Las Cruces

EL PASO, Texas -

Just two days before USC quarterback Max Wittek and his Trojan teammates fight for a victory over Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl, the freshman standout took the time to visit kids with an even bigger fight: FIGHTING FOR THEIR LIVES.


"It's just really humbling," says Wittek as he sat alongside a child suffering from leukemia during his visit to the El Paso Children's Hospital, "You feel very sorry because it's not any fault of their own (that they are sick).  They didn't do anything wrong.  It's very good to see (the kids') spirits up and to help them."


As the Trojans gear up for the New Year's Eve showdown in the Sun Bowl, Wittek and a handful of USC football players made it a priority to visit to the children's hospital that serves kids from El Paso, TX / Juarez, Mexico / Las Cruces, NM.


"It's awesome," says El Paso's Charlie Pasi-Penisini as the youngster sported a USC cap and played a few board games with the visiting USC players. Pasi-Penisini is suffering from respiratory problems.


USC Defensive Tackle J.R. Tavai also sat down to play some "connect Four" with a patient suffering from cancer. Meanwhile, as another patient, Cuauhtemoc Morufu, of Sierra Vista, Arizona beat him in the game, Tavai happily laughed and proclaimed: "it's cool spending time with them, but, it's kind of bad because I'm getting my butt whooped."


Cuauhtemoc Morufu also giggled along: "it's fun to beat these players. I like USC."
A handful of USC players were eager to utilize their Spanish-language skills with some of the patients from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico who were at the Hospital.


Teenager Alberto Rojas, who also played a few board games with the USC athletes, told the ABC affiliate for the El Paso/Juarez/Las Cruces area in Spanish: " It fascinates me just being with USC players. It's a winning experience."


And, the best experience of all for the USC players and members of the media visiting the El Paso Children's Hospital?? --Just seeing the giant SMILES on the patients' faces after sharing some time with the suffering kids.

-Georgia Tech players also visited a local hospital as part of the Yellow Jacket's Sun Bowl activities.

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