Pat Feeley has seen firsthand the impact an athlete can have on a sick child.
Feeley, the Director of Development at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, has been in the room when a person like Brian Dawkins strolls in.
For just a little while, the kids forget about their problems and bask in the presence of someone they've only previously seen on television. It's something that doesn't come with a price tag.
"It means so much," Feeley said. "These players are absolute stars to the kids here at the hospital. Their involvement is so important, not only for fundraising and getting people excited about the hospital, but for the kids themselves. So when someone like Brian Dawkins comes into the hospital and visits a child, which he does often, it means so much to them.
"Imagine Brian Dawkins walking into a room. All of sudden, there's a child that may have been in the hospital for three or four days, and when Brian walks in they forget everything about their illness and all they can focus on was that a star football player is there to visit them."
Dawkins and few other Eagles took time out of their busy schedule last Tuesday to attend the first annual "Toast to the Team," a fundraising event sponsored by CBS Radio - the radio home of the Philadelphia Eagles - with proceeds benefiting the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has a special place in Dawkins' heart. Prior to the 2007 season, Dawkins and his wife gave birth to twin daughters Chionni and Cionni, who were hospitalized for 17 days after being born prematurely. The doctors at CHOP saw the family through.
For a $100 ticket, fans could mingle with the players in the ballroom at the Ritz-Carlton in Center City while sampling food from some of Philadelphia's finest restaurants.
"This is always a great thing," Dawkins said. "I know how much they did for my family. I know how much they do for other families. For the guys to take time out of their busy schedule and being tired after a physical game (against the Giants), for them to come out and support myself and other guys that do these sort of charitable things is always a blessing."
Of all the players at the event, Dawkins' line for autographs was understandably the longest. He had to be moved out from the center of the room and put at a table to accommodate all of his adoring fans.
"I've been blessed and I know that," Dawkins said. "The Lord has blessed me tremendously. To do what I do and to do it at such a high level for a long period of time, I've been able to connect with the fans in such a wonderful way, to know that I am that loved in this city is a tremendous honor for me."
Which affords Dawkins the opportunity to give back. He's seen the affect he has on the kids.
"In a way, that's what we are as entertainers," Dawkins said. "Even when a person is going through tough times, they come to a game and they can escape that for a little while. It's the same thing here. A kid comes up and they may be feeling a certain type of way, they see one of us, just for a second, just for a little while, they feel a little different. Hopefully, that will uplift someone enough to continue to fight."
Quintin Mikell, Max Jean-Gilles, Sav Rocca, Trevor Laws and Hank Baskett, among others, came out to support their teammate as well as the cause.
"This is an incredible thing," Baskett said. "Everyone that knows me knows I love giving back, especially when it comes to kids because these kids; people don't realize that they're our future. When we get old, these kids are going to be the ones leading this country and taking care of us. So we definitely have to look out and give back to these kids, especially the ones at Children's Hospital. Those are some of the strongest people I know. Not kids, people. Those kids, what they go through, and they keep fighting day in and day out. Those are true heroes right there."
Feeley was keenly aware of the how much it means to the children to have actual Eagles take the time to come visit them.
"It provides hope," Feeley said. "Anytime you can bring a smile to their face and bring their spirits up, it's definitely going to improve the quality of their life. It might not change the outcome of their illness, but it's certainly going to make a big difference for them at that moment. It lifts the spirits of them as well as their family, who might be there also to see Brian Dawkins visit the child. So it's incredibly important. That's why the relationship with the Eagles is so important to us, because they're always coming to the hospital. All of the players. And we count on that. The kids count on it."