ANDERSON – Last year when they paid a visit, Chuck Pagano could only imagine what a lot of those children had to go through on a daily basis.
This was 2012 and children from the Riley Hospital For Children came by a Colts training camp practice at Anderson University after a Sunday afternoon practice. They got a chance to join the players end of practice huddle and then got the opportunity to meet Pagano.
A similar scene transpired in 2013, as another group of patients from Riley came by to visit the team in Anderson. Once again they came out to the field at the end of practice, got an ovation from the team, then a meet-and-greet with the players and Pagano.
Yet for the coach, this year’s event had so much more of a different feel for obvious reasons.
“Certainly we all understand first-hand what they’re going through, the battles that they’re fighting, the strain that it is on their families, those type of things,” said Pagano of the 2013 visit, because it comes just months removed from a major medical fight of his own.
Early in the 2012 season the Colts’ head coach was diagnosed with Leukemia and began heavy treatments almost immediately after diagnosis. Pagano would miss 12 games, spending a majority of it away from the Colts complex as he dealt with cancer for the first time in his life.
While he respected these children before, Pagano completely understood the strength these children had first hand more than he may have a year ago.”They’re an inspiration to us, just to see them fight and how strong and come out here with smiles on their faces and the way they attack the bully that they’re battling,” said Pagano.During the 15 minute meet-and-greet, Pagano talked individually with all of the patients as he signed autographs and took pictures. It’s an event that has been featured in his first two years with the franchise and will likely continued for the distant future.“It’s an opportunity for our family, for our organization, for our team to give back and to serve,” said Pagano. “We talk about serving, we talk about self and we talk about team. It’s an honor to have those kids from Riley coming out here