Bryan Morgan may be a force on the gridiron, but his outgoing persona and playful demeanor have created a unique fan base away from the field.DURHAM, N.C. –
Morgan, the starting center for the Blue Devils, has struck up unlikely friendships with patients at Duke Children’s Hospital, where he is a volunteer. He devotes his free time to visiting children with serious illnesses at the hospital, sharing laughter and smiles with everyone he meets.
This week, Morgan continued his volunteer efforts at the MIX 101.5 WRAL-FM Radiothon, an annual fundraising event held in the lobby of the Durham hospital. Because of his involvement with the hospital, Morgan was asked to appear on MIX 101.5’s morning radio show to promote the event, and to share his experiences interacting with the children who benefit from Duke Children’s Hospital’s care and programming.
“Bryan is nothing more than a big kid, and we love having him come out to all the things that we do with Duke Children’s and Duke Athletics,” said Suzie Zeunges, Operations Coordinator for the Office of Development at Duke Children’s Hospital. “Every time we come up with an idea, I know that Bryan is going to be there – he’s going to be volunteering and helping our kids have a great time and remembering how to be kids.”
Zeunges recalls one such occasion last summer, when Morgan attended a Durham Bulls baseball game with two young children he met at the hospital. As Zeunges pulls out pictures of the day, Morgan immediately launches into a story in which he and the two boys played air guitar together in the middle of the crowded stands.
“Anytime [volunteering opportunities] involve kids, or coming here to the Children’s Hospital, I try all I can to make any of those visits because I just love kids,” Morgan says.
Morgan is also involved with Camp Kaleidoscope, a specialized summer camp run by the hospital for children with serious illnesses. He and the other volunteers help the campers have fun, participating in activities ranging from tie-dying t-shirts to playing sports. Morgan says he enjoyed being able to meet and play with area children – many of whom recognize him as a member of the Duke football team.
“Some of them came up to me right when they saw my blue D, and they’re like ‘I’m a Carolina fan.’ That’s okay,” he says, laughing. “But a lot of them love going to Duke. Some of them visit Duke with their families, and some love just seeing Duke on TV – basketball, football. They’re just great kids.”
A self-described “people-person,” Morgan reveled in the Radiothon experience, exchanging jokes with the radio show’s hosts and taking pictures with the volunteers manning the phones. He even jumped on the phone a few times to greet callers personally. But while he manages to find the humor in almost any situation, Morgan never fails to appreciate the position he has been granted to represent Duke football in the Durham community.
“I feel like it’s my duty to help out in the community,” he says. “A lot of us take it for granted – what we have … [It’s] a blessing to be able to attend Duke, a blessing for me to come visit these children. A lot of people don’t have the opportunities I’ve had.”