Tony and Lauren Dungy bring joy to sick children

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – For several years, Hall of Fame football Tony Dungy and his wife Lauren have made trips to children’s hospitals, armed with gift baskets to brighten the spirits of young patients.

“the program is called Basket of Hope and is just something to bring a little energy, a little fun and know that it is going to be okay. it is going to be okay eventually,” Coach Dungy said.

On Friday, the Dungys went from room to room at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in Tampa.

Blake Zinke, 6, was one of the many patients who visited with the Dungys.

“They did spend a lot of time with Blake. They made him feel important and they gave him an excellent day and a fantastic memory, better than the hospital memory,” Blake’s mom, Tami Zinke, said.

The parents of Mason Cushman said their son hasn’t smiled in two weeks. “Just look, he put a smile on his face. He put smile on our face. It makes everyone feel great it really does,” Mason’s father Sammy Cushman said.

The young football fan was thrilled to meet the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach. “I am extremely grateful that he came and gave us all this stuff and showed up. His presence is the biggest gift,” Mason said.

Alexis Sapronetti, 7, was excited about her basket full of toys, puzzles and books.

“A life impact, honestly because we can go back and look at the pictures and that is something we can share now. We don’t have to be like, ‘That was the day she had surgery.’ (Instead) that’s the day she met Tony,” Adina Sapronetti said about her daughter.

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