Conrad spends his Tuesday free time at Children’s Hospital

Kentucky football player CJ Conrad accompanied by Scratch and two Kentucky cheerleaders, Josh Marsh and Riley Aguiar, visited Kentucky Children’s Hospital to celebrate homecoming week with the patients on Tuesday Oct. 16, 2018 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

For college athletes, there is always one day a week where the busy schedule of class, practice, treatments, meetings, etcetera can be overwhelming.

Tuesday is that day for the Kentucky football team. It’s that spot in the week where the practices are pretty heavy and there’s a lot of time remaining till Saturday’s game. 

Before senior tight end C.J. Conrad gets his Tuesdays started, he spends part of his morning at the Kentucky Children’s Hospital to hang out and build relationships with the kids.

“This is kind of like our work day and this starts my day off like really well,” Conrad said. “To be able to come here and kind of just get away from football for a second, to see these kids and see what they’re going through, it really helps me gets through the week.”

Conrad has been visiting the Children’s Hospital since school started in late August. Conrad had a hole in his schedule because of a lighter class load this semester, so Conrad decided to use that free time to interact with the sick children every week. 

This week’s visit was a special one for Conrad, as he decided to throw a makeshift parade for the kids since it was homecoming week. High-flying cheerleader Josh Marsh pushed a hospital bed loaded with beads, bracelets and signed footballs from Conrad through the halls of the Children’s Hospital, visiting the patients that Conrad sees weekly and handing out the homecoming gifts.

“Some days we go room-to-room and just check in, say hello, other days when there’s a big group of kids that want to hangout we go to the play room and make stuff,” Conrad said. “We made slime one time, that was pretty cool.”

Some kids told Conrad their siblings would be jealous to find out their brother or sister met Kentucky’s star tight end. Some kids cried at the sight of the mascot Scratch while other gave him and Conrad hugs with a smile on their face. 

“These kids have it much harder and to put a smile on their face is everything I want to do,” Conrad said.

Before walking out of some of the rooms, Conrad would tell the kids to check out his game this Saturday. When Conrad returns next Tuesday, he will sometimes talk about the game with the kids, and they’re not shy to offer their advice.

“Sometimes they ask the common question ‘Why don’t you get the ball more?’” Conrad said.

When Conrad discovered he had a hole in his schedule to fill with community service, he knew he wanted to do something with kids. 

As a kid, Conrad enjoyed the opportunity to meet athletes and likes that he can gives kids that same kind of feeling with his platform.

“They made me so happy when I would see them and they weren’t even college athletes, they were just like varsity basketball players or football players that I really enjoyed from my hometown,” Conrad said.

Conrad will continue to visit the Children’s Hospital every Tuesday for the remainder of the season, as long as he is in Lexington.

There is a possibility that Conrad will be in a new city with an NFL team this time next year, but that won’t stop him from being involved in the community. Conrad said he wants to continue working with kids and eventually start his own foundation.

“I will struggle to get away from kids, I think, I really enjoy kids and putting smiles on their faces,” Conrad said.