Fun, Games and Time With Community Kids For WVU In Orlando
ORLANDO, Fla. — West Virginia’s time in Orlando has been fully scheduled. With practice, visits to theme parks, shopping trips and a Christmas evening celebration, there hasn’t been a want of things to do during the run-up to the Camping World Bowl on Dec. 28.
One of the most rewarding of those events was a trip to Andretti Karting and Games, where each player and a Syracuse counterpart paired up with a youngster from the Orlando area for a trip through the venue. Taking in activities from go-carting to virtual reality systems to classic arcade games, the players took the time to connect and get away from football for a short while, but the most important aspect of the trip was spending time with the children.
“It’s just important to meet the kids,” wide receiver Dominique Maiden said. “The Camping World Bowl reps came and talked to us about how important it is for the community to meet us and what a support system we can be for these kids. I’m just glad to be here and glad to hang out with the kids.”
Maiden has seen the importance of these types of activities his entire life. His father was a Navy Seal, and his actions drilled that into Dominique from a young age.
“Growing up you do a lot of community service with people in the military. [My father] set examples with actions, not words.,” he related. “Growing up with all the kids running around, I was always the big kid, so I loved connecting with people and hanging out with people. This is a really good experience for everybody. It’s a good way to connect with the community. I love it.
Many WVU players are veterans of the children’s scene, having made numerous trips to WVU Medicine’s Children’s Hospital as well as to schools in the Morgantown area. Still, it’s different every time, according to defensive lineman Ezekiel Rose.
“I feel like it’s always a new experience because sometimes kids are very unpredictable…you gotta be ready for anything,” the outgoing senior said. “I enjoy having them around. Most of the time I just enjoy letting them talk because they have fun stories all the time, and it makes my heart warm to hear them tell their stories while smiling and having fun.”
Both players are naturals with the youngsters they meet, and have no difficulty forging connections with them.
“I’m actually a hyper guy myself, so I like playing around and running around with them,” Rose said. “That usually gets them going and gets them started. I just let them go from there.”
Maiden, like many others, taps into his own personality.
“Most of us are just big kids ourselves just playing football,” he said. “It’s really easy to connect with the kids, have fun and spend time talking to them. It’s real easy. I like it.”
Scenes from West Virginia’s Trip to Andretti Karting & Games