Virginia Tech and Rutgers’ players spent Wednesday morning in Kissimmee at Give Kids the World Village, an amusement park and village that welcomes children with life-threatening illnesses for weeks at a time.
“We’ve been to a lot of bowl games and we’ve been to a lot of places, but I think this is going to be the most special that we’ve ever been to,” Hokies head coach Frank Beamer. “I feel like the kids are going to get something out of this, but I think our players are probably going to get more out of it.”
The Hokies and Scarlet Knights, who will meet Friday in the Russell Athletic Bowl, spent the time playing various games with kids and going on rides. Players from both sides danced with kids to the “Cupid Shuffle” and “Cha Cha Slide” in the park’s main area.
“I like being around kids anyway, so it was just a good opportunity to give back to these guys, let them know that the disease and stuff they’re going through, they’re not alone in fighting it,” Tech cornerback Antone Exum said. “They’ve got guys like us that are behind them supporting them.”
“It’s a huge honor for us,” quarterback Logan Thomas said. “It kind of shows that there’s life outside of football and school, I guess, and people, that’s all they see of us is football and school. And it’s nice to give back and show that we care.”
It’s the latest team activity for Virginia Tech in Orlando. The Hokies have balanced work and play throughout the trip, going to Universal Studios on Monday and to Disney World on Christmas Day, although long lines (as much as three or four hours to get on a ride) deterred some from attending.
Some players were braver than others when it came to rollercoasters.
“I only got on one ride [at Universal],” receiver Corey Fuller said. “The one ride I did get on , I don’t even know the name of it, but I had my eyes closed the entire time.”
The Hokies have a closed afternoon practice today at the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium, their last of the week. There are no interviews afterward. Thursday’s schedule features only a walkthrough.
“I think from here on out, we’re all in a business mind set,” linebacker Jack Tyler said. “Go beat Rutgers. I think that’s what’s on everybody’s mind.”