San Jose State spreads holiday cheer in hospital pediatric unit

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By Ana Kieu

San Jose State football linebackers Tysyn Parker and Alii Matau and gymnasts Chelsey Andrada, Jada Mazury and Emma Milne spent an afternoon after final exams distributing toys to children in the pediatric unit of Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Gatos, Calif.

Bags of toys and donations to purchase additional gifts were collected at an athletics department-hosted student-athlete party prior to final exams.

“The stuff they have to go through on a daily basis is pretty tough. The fact they have to spend the holidays in the hospital and possibly fight every day for their life is tough. I don’t think I would be able to do it as an adult. For then to do it as a young kid, it’s hard,” said Parker, one of the football team’s most active players in the Beyond Football program.

“If it’s just me showing up and giving them a toy, see a smile, and give them a little bit of hope, I can make a difference.”

“It’s absolutely wonderful to have San Jose State here to help our pediatric patients recover. The kids really enjoy seeing the athletes come in and share time with them and their families,” said Joe DeSchryver, Good Samaritan Hospital Chief Executive Officer and a close friend of San Jose State football head coach Brent Brennan.

“It’s actually unique to have visitors come and see our patients. We have musicians that come here at times, but we’re very fortunate that San Jose State reached out to us (through Beyond Football coordinator Tobruk Blaine) and provided the community with good will through the Beyond Football program. We’re very excited to have them here.”

“It was very humbling to see the families and kids here. We just got to talk to the kids a little bit, but they were mostly excited about their new toys. I was happy to see that,” said Andrada, who has experienced spreading holiday cheer to less fortunate families in her hometown of Benicia, Calif.

The visit consisted of hospital staff escorting the Spartan contingent of the five student-athletes, Coach Brennan and his wife Courtney Brennan, director of football operations Ben Thienes, Blaine from Beyond Football, and director of football digital communications Cam Radford to patients’ room in the pediatric unit.

“I love seeing the kids happy. I remember when I was younger the struggles my family and I went through. They always provided my brother and I with toys and gifts and it brightened up the mood. Now, I can return the favor to children in need. It puts a smile on my face,” said Matau, who remembers handing out Christmas dinners as a teenager in church-sponsored events. Matau credits his parents with instilling a sense of philanthropy through his family.

“My parents said giving is more important than receiving. And, I can feel that, especially the last couple of years when I stuff to give. It was just awesome to give back. I love giving.”

“It meant a lot for all of us to be here and help the kids, wish them a Merry Christmas and happy holidays, because they will remember it for the rest of their lives. It’s important to give back to the community,” said Mazury, a freshman who has volunteered at food banks in San Jose and at home in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

For more information on Beyond Football, visit

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