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Hospital costume party

Posted Oct 30, 2012

CHARLOTTE – For the young patients at Levine Children's Hospital and the Carolina Panthers' rookies, Tuesday was a heartwarming break from their respective routines.

The Panthers' entire rookie class dressed in a wide array of Halloween costumes and made their annual visit to the hospital with Sir Purr and the TopCats, bringing souvenirs and candy to the children and their families.

"It gives them hope knowing that they've had somebody come to visit them," Hospital event coordinator Carrie Keuten said. "It's just for them. It's so special."

Added linebacker Luke Kuechly: "These kids are in here and they don't have a whole lot to do. They are stuck watching TV and to have visitors is great for them, to see a different face. When you go in there it just makes their day."

Kuechly dressed in German lederhosen with an oversized green hat.

"I don't really know what I am," Kuechly said with a smile. "I saw this in there and threw it on."

Punter Brad Nortman was Buzz Lightyear, cornerback Josh Norman was Robin Hood, safety D.J. Campbell was a penguin, defensive end Frank Alexander was Elvis, and wide receiver Joe Adams was an astronaut.

Lastly, guard Amini Silatolu was a hippo. And a ballerina.

"It's the best costume ever," he said.

Norman burst out laughing with a patient and his family when Silatolu and Sir Purr flashed their dance moves during a visit.

The rookies had plenty of fun, but also realized how challenging the day-to-day recovery process can be for the children they came to see.

"It's an eye-opener," Norman said. "A big difference from what we do every day to see what they are going through."

Kuechly and Nortman chatted with a teenager who suffered a significant leg injury on the football field. They talked football and shared stories while the boy's mom soaked it all in.

"First smile I've seen in weeks," she said.

That's why the Panthers are there.

"They visit the children, and it brings so much goodwill and cheer to everybody – the patients, the family, the hospital staff," Keuten said. "It resonates throughout the entire hospital system."