North Carolina wide receiver Austin Proehl has been providing hope and encouragement for patients at the UNC cancer hospital in Chapel Hill throughout his college career.
On Thanksgiving, the hospital staff and patients decided to thank Proehl for his service.
The staff surprised Proehl with a gathering and a gift, which was recorded on video and tweeted by the Carolina Football Twitter account.
— Carolina Football (@TarHeelFootball) November 23, 2017
Proehl said he has made coming to the hospital and visiting patients a weekly ritual before football games. Kelly Kivette, a recreational therapist at the hospital, said Proehl’s visits have inspired patients,
“He has made lasting impressions that will certainly last a lifetime for many of these patients, and oftentimes when they leave here some of their fondest memories are the visits that they’ve had with him,” Kivette said.
Proehl has had his own medical battles to fight this season. In North Carolina’s fourth game of the season, against Duke, Proehl broke his collarbone, and it was unsure whether he would be able to return to the field before the end of the season. Proehl made it back for last week’s game against Western Carolina — his senior day.
While he seeks to inspire the cancer patients he visits, Proehl said the patients have wound up inspiring him.
“They have a huge impact on my life just because when you feel like you come in here to help them they end up helping you by asking you questions about who you are and how you’re doing and you’re the one supposed to be asking them how they’re doing and helping them out,” Proehl said.
“Just showing them that you care can go a long way and it can make a difference in life or death.”