Kentucky Children's Hospital reached out to Kentucky football players Max Duffy and Luke Fortner about doing a video to cheer up patients during the COVID-19 crisis like they had done when they were allowed to make weekly visits to see youngsters.
Duffy, an All-American punter, and Fortner, a starting offensive lineman, had one major problem.
"They asked about us maybe singing or dancing or even reading a children's book. We don't sing, dance or even own a children's book," said Fortner. "We were thinking about what else we could do. We thought maybe we could try a talk show."
That idea turned into the weekly "In The Huddle" production on the hospital's Facebook page, where the two roommates answer questions young patients have submitted.
"We thought we could try and do something to have a bit of fun, but this has turned out to be even more fun than we thought and will keep getting better as we get more questions," Duffy said. "We really enjoy giving back to these kids. This keeps us busy and gives us something to do to help kids who can use some cheering up."
Fortner never envisioned how much interacting with patients would mean to him when he was asked to visit the hospital the first time.
"I realized quickly I loved it and wanted to visit every week," Fortner said. "We can't visit now, but I still wanted to help, and if anything, this has let kids maybe be a little more willing to speak their minds. Sometimes kids can be a little shy when we visit. Now it's cool to find out things kids are thinking and how we can answer those questions."
Duffy hopes the youngsters eventually challenge them with more than "basic football questions" and hopes some are even funny.
"We are sensing kids are going to be more willing to ask questions this way than when we visit, so that is a plus for all this," Duffy said. "It's already a tough situation for these kids, and then you have this thing (COVID-19) make it even harder. They have to be inside and not have interaction with friends or even family.
"So many people are making real sacrifices each day to help that for us just to spend time making a video and answering questions doesn't really seem like much, but hopefully it will provide a little fun or relief for these kids and make them feel special. That's not much to ask us to do, and besides, we might be having more fun than them doing this."