Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, the team's 2015 nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award, on Tuesday hosted his third annual "Ryan's Reindeer Rush" at Redskins Park.
Sara Schweigert saw her worlds collide on Tuesday evening at Redskins Park.
Schweigert and her children, Trevor and Ava, were special guests of Ryan Kerrigan's at the linebacker's third annual "Ryan's Reindeer Rush," held by Kerrigan's Blitz For The Better Foundation in partnership with the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation.
The event featured 25 children from INOVA Children's Hospital who were able to spend time with Kerrigan in the team's cafeteria, where they enjoyed some pizza, played some holiday games and put together their own Build-A-Bear for the holidays.
The Schweigerts are huge Redskins fans, and Sara said the event was ideal for Trevor, who at 6 years old is diagnosed with Stage 4 high-risk neuroblastoma.
"I think his sportsmanship on the field is amazing, his camaraderie with his teammates, and then being able to give back to the community and help kids who are sometimes fighting for their lives every day, and just to give them a moment to take a break and breathe and not have to think about that is pretty amazing," Sara said of Kerrigan. "It's awesome to have people who care, and it's nice to be out of the hospital, out of treatment, and just be able to hang and have fun with people that we love."
Tuesday's event was just what Kerrigan envisioned when he created his Blitz For The Better Foundation in 2013 with a mission of providing opportunities, support and resources to children and families in need, particularly those with special needs – "whether they're physically challenged or they're sick or have an illness," Kerrigan said.
His day began on Tuesday with a stop at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where he continued his "Ryan's Reindeer Rush" tradition of going door-to-door visiting young patients and delivering signed footballs, teddy bears, magazines and games.
It's the same hospital where he installed the first of what he hopes are many "Kerrigan's Korners," an in-patient surgery wing locker stocked with kid-friendly portable DVD players, video gaming systems, iPads, Kindles and Leap Pads for children making extended stays.
"It's really cool," Kerrigan said. "I mean, I've been fortunate to be here in Washington, D.C., where the fans have been extremely supportive of my foundation. I really owe it all to them, I owe it all to Prolanthropy, who runs the Blitz For The Better Foundation. I've been really fortunate, like I said, to work with such fans, such great people who've made this possible."
25 children from INOVA Children's Hospital visited Redskins Park for dinner and a Build A Bear activity with Ryan Kerrigan and his 'Blitz for the Better' Foundation.
Kerrigan on Tuesday was also surprised when, midway through his event, Redskins President Bruce Allen stopped by to present Kerrigan with his 2015 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award trophy.
Kerrigan is the Redskins' nominee for this prestigious league award, an honor given annually to recognize a player's community service and volunteer efforts as well as his excellence on the field.
Those hoping to help Kerrigan win a $20,000 donation for his Blitz For The Better Foundation are encouraged to use "#KerriganWPMOYChallenge" in their social posts until Dec. 31.
"You know, with the Redskins, we look for great teammates. You look for people you can count on, on and off the field," Allen told the children at Tuesday's event. "We drafted Ryan Kerrigan in the first round because we knew he'd be a great person on and off the field. … You young people, this is the type of person you can look up to, and you'll never be disappointed."
Schweigert echoed Allen's sentiments on Tuesday, saying Kerrigan is a terrific role model for her children.
"Just thank you from the bottom of our hearts," she said. "I appreciate everything they've done for my son and my daughter today."