Cowboys see smiles at hospital visits

DALLAS – A day after their 27-24 overtime win against Pittsburgh, the Cowboys spent their Monday visiting four area hospitals for their annual Christmas visits.

Nearly 30 players went to Children’s Medical Center in Dallas where they got to meet 7-year-old Tia Hacket of Argyle. She was scheduled to have heart surgery later in the day to repair her pulmonary valve.

Surrounded by her parents, Nicole and John, and family in pink Team Tia t-shirts, she delighted all of the players with her smile and gave Tony Romo one of her shirts.

“It’s phenomenal,” Nicole Hackett said. “It’s very high stress besides Christmas and the impending surgery, so this is a great way to relax a little bit, take a deep breath and have some smiles. It’s really great. This was a phenomenal experience.

After signing autographs, taking pictures and handing out small presents, the players visited some children in their room and in a play area. Romo suffered his first December defeat, losing to one patient in a game of Connect Four. DeMarco Murray helped a little girl paint.

“It’s a special gift that God has blessed us with to be able to share these moments with these kids,” Murray said. “It’s awesome.”

For Romo the trip was even more meaningful than in the past because he is the father of an eight-month old boy. Friday’s elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., also added to the players’ feelings.

“My heart goes out to the people in Connecticut and the families,” Romo said. “It’s just a tragedy. It shows you there’s some evil in the world. There’s nothing you can say that can make anything better, but it just makes you appreciate what you have and the blessings that do come to us in this life. We’re not guaranteed anything and we have to take every moment and make sure we realize how precious it is.”