Hope is a popular word at Riley Hospital for Children - you see it everywhere you look.
Because that’s what they do every day - they bring hope to children and their families.
And they do it in many ways.
On Monday, they teamed up with the Colts to spread cheer and hope for the holidays.
“The families are such fans of the Colts and it really brings something special to the kids, to their parents, but also the staff at a really stressful time of year when we're busy,” said Dr. Paul Haut, Chief Operating Officer. “This really lifts everyone's spirits.”
Colts players, cheerleaders and Blue visited Riley Children's Hospital to spread some Christmas cheer! They sang carols, visited with patients and their families and delivered some gifts.
“Hi, I'm Andrew,” said quarterback Andrew Luck as he walked into 2-year-old Colton’s room with Colts cheerleaders, Colts mascot, Blue, and his teammates. “This is Anthony, Jacoby, and Matt. Do you mind if we sing a song? We won't be loud.”
As Colton stared up at them, Luck called the play.
“I think ‘Away In A Manger’ is appropriate. Would you like to sing along?” he asked Colton’s mom before handing her a songbook.
They went room to room and hit all the classics - from “Frosty the Snowman” to “Jingle Bells” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” They took requests and even worked in some modern hits like “Let It Go.”
“I think we're all big Christmas guys, so we get real pumped up for this event,” said tackle Anthony Castonzo. “Just going around room to room and meeting the kids and bringing smiles to their faces - we're having fun and I think they can feel that and hopefully, they can have some fun too.”
Backing them up on vocals and guitar was Caitlin Krater. A music therapist at Riley, she sees the impact of music on kids every day.
“We try to give as much music and creativity as possible here in the hospital because through creative means, we tend to heal. So when you bring in music to a setting like this, which is often very scary and isolating, we saw today so many faces turn into smiles and that's really what it's all about.”
And it wasn’t just the kids who had their spirits lifted.
“Even the singers today, you could feel the energy change the more they sang,” she said.
They brightened the day of everyone around them.
“It's easy to say it,” Krater said. “But when you're here, you really feel it. It's a shift on the whole unit. You can really turn it around.”
For Rachel, a former nurse, caroling at Riley is a dream she had before she even became a Colts cheerleader.
“I used to come down and watch in the Child Life Zone when they did these things and I remember the Valentine's Day appearance where they dressed like Disney princesses.”
She also knows the impression it leaves with the kids.
“To know that you affected their day in a little bit of a way - maybe the one thing that will make it feel like Christmas this whole season.”
The Colts came to spread joy - and they took some home with them too.
“My whole day is made. My whole month is made,” said Colts cheerleader, Ambria. “It's Christmastime and we kind of lose sight of what Christmas is about sometimes. Just to be here, see so many blessings on these people, it was amazing.”
“To be able to come to a hospital and see these kids and see their face light up when we walk in, to be able to provide cheer for them - it’s a rewarding thing,” said quarterback Jacoby Brissett. “Hopefully, our presence brings a reward to them, because we know that their presence brings a reward to us.”
A hospital is no place for a kid - especially at Christmastime.
But while they’re getting the care they need, the staff at Riley goes above and beyond to make every day feel special for the children and their families.
“A holiday isn't a place, it's a feeling and it's what the people around you make it,” said Rachel. “I think that we brought a little piece of that and these children won't ever forget it.”