IRVING, Texas – Cowboys players and cheerleaders fanned out across the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex on Tuesday morning for one of the team's most cherished traditions.
As they do every Christmas season, the Cowboys visited children's hospitals across the city, spending time with patients and their families who are seeking treatment during the holiday season. Cowboys players, including Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, DeMarco Murray, Jason Witten and many others, broke off into groups and visited four hospitals in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
See photos from the Cowboys' visit to local hospitals.
The Cowboys have been visiting area children's hospitals for 26 years, giving gifts to children and spreading holiday cheer. This year's visits were Children's Health Children's Medical Center, Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children and Medical City Children's Hospital in Dallas, as well as Cook Children's Medical Center in Forth Worth.
"It's always neat for us, as players, to be able to come have an impact on their life and put a smile on their face during this tough time," Witten said.
Witten and Murray headlined the group of players to visit Children's Health, as they were accompanied by the likes of Jeremy Mincey, Brandon Weeden, Doug Free, Ronald Leary and others. Witten, who has three children, said the annual trip always resonates with him, as he spent time with a young girl his own daughter's age on Tuesday morning.
"When we first saw the little girl, that's two years old – when you see that, it puts things in perspective," he said. "What an awesome opportunity you have to go and interact with these kids, and hopefully put a smile on their face, their parents' face, just for a little bit in these challenging circumstances that they're in."
Murray has visited the hospitals every season since his rookie year, in 2011. The Pro Bowl running back said it's not easy to see children coping with such serious illnesses, but he's always amazed by the resiliency he sees during these visits.
"To see what they're going through, and to see that they're still smiling and still have great spirit is unbelievable," he said. "It's definitely sad, it makes you think of perspective you have in life – what's important and things of that nature. It's a sad deal, but I'm happy to be here and just try to let them enjoy us for a little bit. We enjoy them, as well."
One patient got to enjoy a rousing XBox session with the NFL's rushing leader. During one particular room visit, Murray stopped to play a UFC video game with a patient.
"It was fun. I had to show him I can play a little bit," Murray said. "It was good. He's a good kid, Ricky. He's a funny guy, so it was fun to play with him."
It didn't hurt that the Cowboys are currently in the midst of their best season since 2009, as patients and their families wished the players good luck in Sunday's rematch against the Philadelphia Eagles.
"They're excited to see us doing well. That's a big thing," Murray said. "They're going through things in life, but they're still excited about football and seeing us do well on the field."