As off-season workouts wound down this week, the Jaguars rookies decided to visit the Ronald McDonald House in downtown Jacksonville. Accompanied by Jaguars long snapper Joe Zelenka and offensive line coach Paul Boudreau, the rookies played games and visited with the children. Many of the kids enjoyed meeting football players for the first time and getting a chance to interact with them.
Upon the players' arrival at the house, ice cream was offered to all of the players and kids. Players interacted with the kids while they enjoyed the treats. They signed autographs and posed for pictures as well.
Jaguars second round draft choice Khalif Barnes said, "Anytime as a professional athlete that you can get out and get a chance to interact with kids, it is special. Me, as a player, I love this."
After finishing their afternoon snack, the players and kids played a game. They each got a piece of bubble gum and staged a contest to see who could blow the biggest bubble.
Following numerous unsuccessful attempts by many of the players to blow even a small bubble, undrafted rookie offensive lineman Julius Franklin blew a bubble that almost doubled in size than what any of the other players or kids had done. When the contest was finished, Franklin cited one of Muhammad Ali's famous quotes, "I am the champ."
The bubble gum contest was a hit among the players and kids. It gave them an activity that they all could enjoy playing. Some of the players confirmed that they are going to stick to playing football rather than joining any bubble gum blowing contests. However, the visit was truly a success and it touched the players as it did the children.
Jaguars first round draft choice Matt Jones remarked, "This is great to get an opportunity to come over with my teammates and check out this facility. This is a great thing to be a part of."
The Ronald McDonald House is a facility which houses families that have children who are receiving long-term treatment at one of the local hospitals. The house provides comfort and care for the children and their families. A shuttle is also provided to the parents and kids to travel back and forth to the hospital to receive treatment. The home includes a large living room, a giant kitchen, many bedrooms and several playrooms filled with toys for the kids. The residence is equipped with all of the amenities that anyone would find at home.