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On Saturday North Carolina football players suited up in light blue helmets and Nike cleats to beat Boston College.

But Friday six donned yellow surgical gowns and extra-large latex gloves to fight negative stereotypes surrounding burn victims in the N.C. Jaycee Burn Center at UNC Hospitals.

The players spent Friday afternoon visiting patients in the burn center and filming a video to promote fire safety that will air during halftime of the Nov. 22 game against N.C. State.

Anita Maready Fields the center's burn care coordinator" told the volunteers that the patients were excited about having them stop by.

""Having visitors like you doesn't happen very often"" she told the players. So this is a very big deal.""

The six players shook hands with patients"" signed posters and pictures and gave out bracelets.

Senior linebacker Chase Rice said he felt personally committed to visiting patients.

""This means a lot to me because my dad was in the hospital with cancer" and I went to visit him a lot" Rice said.

And I know how much it meant to him to have people love him. So we just want to help out any way we can.""

Junior center Lowell Dyer said that at first he was a little apprehensive about entering the center"" especially after Fields warned the men they might have a difficult time with what they would see.

Fields told them it was OK to be upset over what they saw.

""I know you all are big football players" but it's okay if you need to step back and get some air she said. You wouldn't be the first ones. … You might go home tonight and think oh God" what if that was me. You might even shed a tear.""

T. Moore Evans" Kyle Jolly Morgan Randall and Brian White joined Rice and Dyer visiting three patients of different ages who were recovering from serious burn injuries.

Bruce Cairns director of the N.C. Jaycee Burn Center" said burn patients are often misunderstood and subjected to stereotypes.

""We have people who have been inside for 20 years because of how they think people will perceive them"" he said.

He also said he hopes the players will stay away from bonfires on Franklin Street after big wins and inform other people about the dangers of such celebrations.

After the visit, the football players said they enjoyed themselves. Dyer said he was happy to be a part of it.

The main thing is to put a smile on their face"" Rice said. It just feels good to come here and cheer people up a little bit.""

And Cairns said the patients will never forget the visit.

""That kind of dedication and perseverance that these athletes have is just a tremendous inspiration to our patients"" Cairns said.

I can guarantee you that our patients will never forget this.

""You know"" they might be inspired to do more therapy today or eat a little more to get stronger just because these athletes give them hope.""

 

Contact the University Editor at udesk@unc.edu.


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