Penn State Plays Host to Special Visitors

Ryan Keiser helps a young fan lift weights.

The Nittany Lions provide tours of Lasch Building to pediatric cancer patients and survivors. The event is part of PSU's big THON weekend activities.


Much has been written and said about what members of the Penn State football team have endured the last year and a half. Through no fault of their own, the Nittany Lions have had to deal with the considerable fallout of the Sandusky scandal, including severe NCAA sanctions that will prevent some of them from ever playing in a bowl.

Saturday at Lasch Building, though, several PSU players scoffed at the notion that they’ve had to overcome anything truly difficult. They were there giving tours of the facility to pediatric cancer patients and survivors (and their families), so when the Lions talked to the media near the end of the event the concept of perspective kept coming up.

“Everything we’ve been through as a university -- the whole scandal, sanctions and everything -- is nothing,” running back Zach Zwinak said. “These kids are dealing with life and death. They struggle more every day than we do with anything we’ll ever do. You know, we have guys who think lifting is hard and struggle through that. That’s nothing. It’s heartbreaking to think what these kids have to go through. But that’s why we’re giving back to them today, making them (feel) special and providing them with something positive in their lives.”

This is the ninth year for the tours, which are offered through a Make-A-Wish program in conjunction with the Penn State Dance Marathon that is going on nearby at the Bryce Jordan Center.

This year, a record number of families (27) and Penn State players (more than 70) took part in the tours, where the visitors received behind-the-scenes looks at the building. They checked out the academic support center, the players’ lounge, the renovated weight room and more before heading to the huge player locker room to wrap up things.

There, they were treated to ice cream (scooped out by head coach Bill O’Brien’s wife and spouses of other coaches), were able to try on the players’ helmets and pads, and then heard from O’Brien himself.

Check out some of what went down in our video above.

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