Cheers erupted when Batman, Black Panther, Mr. Incredible and other superheroes entered the room.
Vikings fullback C.J. Ham, who dressed as Batman, and his family joined forces with SCHEELS to host a Halloween party at Children's Minnesota Tuesday night, and they were joined by the entire Vikings running backs room.
C.J., Stephanie and their children, Skylar, Stella and Trip, all donned Batman-related costumes for the festivities.
"We were trying to decide between the Incredible family and Batman plus his crew," Stephanie said. "We decided on Batman because he doesn't actually need superpowers – he uses his wit and the people around him, which I love. Anyone can be Batman, really."
Alexander Mattison came as Mr. Incredible, Kene Nwangwu as Black Panther and Ty Chandler as Superman, whereas Cam Akers switched up the theme a bit and masqueraded as Mario.
"Bringing all the RBs with me was really cool," C.J. said. "I don't think we've done a full position group event in a while, and I'm so glad they all joined.
"It just speaks volumes to who these guys are and how much they enjoy giving back," he added.
The evening was especially impactful considering a majority of Minnesota's running backs have young children of their own.
"It's a no-brainer, really, to host an event like this," C.J. said. "These kids aren't able to go trick-or-treating this year, and I know how much kids look forward to that. So we were happy to be here."
"Our kiddos mean the world to us, and it's so hard to see your own children sick," Stephanie added. "Children deserve the world, so it's an easy 'yes' to give them a little bit of our time."
Jennifer Soderholm, President of the Children's Minnesota Foundation, expressed gratitude to the Ham family and Vikings for providing a "fun and meaningful experience" to the patients and their families.
"The Vikings are great partners that truly embrace the Children's Minnesota values of joining together and putting kids first," Soderholm said.
Akers, Chandler and Nwangwu helped out with a party in the hospital's Child Life Zone, where patients wore superhero capes provided by SCHEELS. The teammates did Halloween crafts and played basketball and paper football with young people and their families, and they also took turns sharing messages from the hospital's live studio, which broadcasts to in-hospital televisions at each Children's Minnesota location.
"I just want to spread love and positivity," Chandler said. "It's truly a blessing to be here with the kids and [lift their spirits]. I'm blessed to be here with my teammates."
View photos of Vikings fullback C.J. Ham, his family and Vikings running backs celebrating Halloween at Children's Minnesota.
Kayla Shafer, Manager of Child Life and Music Therapy at Children's Minnesota, described the impact of the Vikings presence.
"It was incredible to see the excitement on our patients' faces when C.J., his family and Vikings teammates, came to visit," Shafer said. "They were so great with the kids and their families – playing, signing autographs and taking pictures. It really means a lot to our patients, especially during celebrations like Halloween. The visit allowed them to just be kids."
Mattison spent time on the inpatient mental health unit, encouraging young people receiving treatment and support.
C.J. and Stephanie paid individual room visits to those patients who were unable to attend the Child Life Zone party. They delivered bags from SCHEELS that included a teddy bear, football and donated Oakley sunglasses.
"The party was great … but the 1-on-1 interactions in the rooms were some of the best moments of the evening for Steph and me," C.J. said. "Whatever health challenges they may be facing, being able to spend some time with them really meant a lot to us.
"It's always funny because whenever you have that first interaction with a kid who watches you on TV, they may seem a little starstruck – but within a couple minutes, we're just laughing and having a good time together," C.J. added. "It's important to show them that we're human, too. We like to have fun, we like to dress up in Halloween costumes and joke around – just like anyone else."