MADISON, Wis. When Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy visited a local children's hospital at this time last year, he was fresh off leading his team to a victory in Super Bowl XLV. As a special treat that day, McCarthy brought along the Lombardi Trophy for show and tell.
The Packers did not repeat as NFL champions this year, so McCarthy didn't have another Lombardi Trophy with him this time. But he made sure to wear his giant, diamond-encrusted Super Bowl ring on his right hand to show off for the kids.
"We've tried to continue the tradition of bringing some hardware," McCarthy said Sunday during a press conference at the American Family Children's Hospital on the University of Wisconsin campus. "So we brought the Super Bowl ring here. Donald Driver is going to be here tonight with his Mirror Ball Trophy (from "Dancing with the Stars"). So we'll try to keep that tradition going year to year."
McCarthy and his wife, Jessica, were in town as part of their campaign to raise money for the "Sick Kids Can't Wait" initiative, which uses funds to meet the needs of patients and families at the American Family Children's Hospital. The two will also host the third annual Mike and Jessica McCarthy Golf Tournament to benefit the hospital on Monday. The event will be held at Bishops Bay Country Club in Middleton.
The "Sick Kids Can't Wait" program is a four-year, 32 million building project that is expected to add a total of 26 beds in pediatric intensive care, another operating room and imaging capabilities within the children's hospital.
"Just to be able to use the platform of the Green Bay Packers, we are internationally known and loved," McCarthy said. "We felt it was very important to step out of the city of Green Bay and try to affect the state in as positive a manner as we possibly could. That was really a baseline of how the conversation started as we were looking for a charity to be a part of."
Recently, the American Family Children's Hospital moved up in U.S. News & World Report's annual top 50 children's hospitals in the country in seven medical and surgical categories.
"Like any good coach would say," McCarthy said, "the top 50, it's time to be in the top 10."
McCarthy is spending the next two days taking a break -- albeit temporarily -- from his duties as Packers coach. The team begins a three-day minicamp on Tuesday, which serves as the final team practice function before training camp begins on July 26.
McCarthy said he was pleased with the spring participation rate of his players during Organized Team Activities and eagerly anticipated returning to work.
"You're never really happy where your team is at in June, but it's June," McCarthy said. "We've had an opportunity to put everything in offensively, defensively and special teams. We have our minicamp here Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. We're going to use that as a chance to clean up. This is really the learning phase for our football team."
Green Bay opens its preseason slate at San Diego on Aug. 9. The Packers play host to the San Francisco 49ers at Lambeau Field in the regular-season opener a month later on Sept. 9.
Last season, Green Bay finished the regular season 15-1 after winning its first 13 games. But the Packers lost, 37-20, to the New York Giants in the NFC divisional playoffs.
"You have to start over every single year," McCarthy said. "It's a foolish mindset not to take that approach. We're really relying on the experience of our veteran players. We've been through it before."
Click here to make a donation to "Sick Kids Can't Wait."
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