EAGAN, Minn. — As Vikings nose tackle Harrison Phillips looked around the field at TCO Stadium, he found himself drawing motivation.
He watched a young girl with a prosthetic leg run through a ladder drill. Then he saw another child able to kick a field goal while sitting in a wheelchair.
Phillips, along with 13 of his Vikings teammates (safety Lewis Cine, punter Ryan Wright, tackle Vederian Lowe, cornerback Akayleb Evans, wide receiver Jalen Nailor, outside linebacker Luiji Vilain, linebacker William Kwenkeu, defensive lineman Esezi Otomewo, tight end Nick Muse, right guard Ed Ingram, center Josh Sokol and running backs Ty Chandler and Bryant Koback) helped host an NFL PLAY 60 All-Abilities Clinic last week for a group of patients from Shriners Hospitals for Children.
Forty participants were on hand, ranging from ages 3 to 20, all with either a mobility restriction or orthopedic conditions such as amputation or cerebral palsy.
Participants went through multiple drill stations, including passing, rushing, agility and kicking a field goal while Vikings players helped coach, interact and encourage the youth.
"Everyone has these different abilities but everyone's able, so we try to find a way to meet people at their ability and let them complete every drill we have," Phillips said. "So our child here who is in a wheelchair, we still found a way for him with very minimal movement in his lower body to be able to do a field goal kick through the uprights. I think that's something that he would never ever imagine or something that he might tell himself, 'I can't do that,' and surprisingly, 'Yes, you can.' "
View photos of Vikings players with patients from Shriners Hospitals for Children during the PLAY 60 All-Abilities Clinic.
Cine participated in the event before suffering a compound fracture in his leg Sunday in Minnesota's game against New Orleans in London. Cine stayed behind to undergo surgery in London and will eventually return to begin his rehab process.
"[We're] just trying to learn their backgrounds, get to know their names and who they are and what they like to do," Cine said when hosting the youth. "All that stuff is kind of cool because I was their age at a point."
Ingram said he enjoyed getting to spend some time interacting with the youth.
"I remember growing up and seeing a lot of older NFL players come to my city and just come talk to us and hang out with us, and that was the coolest feeling in my life," Ingram said. "The fact that I got to do it for them and allow them to have the same experience I did is amazing."
While his rookie teammates are getting their first tastes of NFL community events, Phillips is no stranger to these opportunities to give back. The fifth-year pro said one of his first community experiences was an NFL PLAY 60 event.
Phillips has also worked with Shriners Hospitals for Children before and played in the Nebraska Shrine Bowl game as a senior in high school.
"It was great. I met a couple of really cool kids … 12-15 years ago I guess," Phillips said about playing in the game. "It was a good experience, and it helped motivate me to start my foundation into giving back in my communities."
Director of Therapeutic Recreation/Child Life at Shriners Hospital for Children Maureen Johnston was grateful to team up with the Vikings for another year.
"It's an awesome experience to be able to call the kids and say, 'Hey, we've got this awesome opportunity' and to see the excitement that they have, it means the world," Johnston said. "We're really excited that they choose us to come and do this with."
Shriners Children's Marketing & Communications Manager Lauren Elm added: "For a lot of these kids, it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We have kids that came from Montana, some that came from Nebraska just to be part of this experience."
After the event was over, the Vikings players and participants broke down a huddle with a SKOL Chant. Then, after receiving a gift bag that included a backpack and a football, participants were invited to enjoy a meal from the Vikings Table food truck, with Evans, Cine and Chandler handing the food out.
Like Phillips, Evans said members of the community help motivate him.
"It's all about the community to me," Evans said. "Those are the people that give me motivation to come into work every day, so I want to be able to give back as much as I can. So anytime I can show my face in the community, meet people, I'm willing to do that."