Gamecocks bring smiles to faces of children who could use them

Gamecocks bring smiles to faces of children who could use them

**Story and photo by Kyle Heck**

South Carolina men's basketball's "8K In 8 Days" campaign continued on Thursday with a visit with children who could use a respite from what they're going through. The Gamecocks made the trip to Palmetto Health Children's Hospital, and the patients were there in the lobby ready for the players.

"Before 2 o'clock, when the players were coming, we had a line of kids already down here waiting," said Christine Fink, the manager of child life services at the children's hospital. "It takes a lot to get kids that don't feel well out of bed, and when you get them out of bed and down here waiting for the group to start, you know you scheduled the right thing."

Gamecocks visit with children at Brookland Baptist

The student-athletes first signed autographs and took pictures with the patients before moving to the next room to play games. There were life-sized bowling pins to knock down and a basketball goal where the patients could take the players to town. There were plenty of smiles to go around, and it was a welcome reprieve for the patients battling various forms of illness. 

TeMarcus Blanton has had his fair share of hardships. A highly-rated recruit out of Georgia, Blanton suffered a serious hip injury before his first game. He was never fully able to recover and gave up basketball after last season. However, things were put into perspective during the visit to Palmetto Health Children's Hospital.

"My injury can't even compare to their injury," Blanton said. "I had a minor injury compared to theirs. I'm just glad to see them smiling and doing great."

The event continued the week of giving back to the community for the South Carolina men's basketball teams, and there are a lot of Gamecock student-athletes in general who frequent the children's hospital. 

"We rely on our community, and when we have a chance to have the Gamecocks in the house, we definitely take advantage of that," Fink said. "These guys are here transforming our toys that we use in the playroom every day and they're making it magical for our patients today."