ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Patrick Omameh walked into the room on the eighth floor of the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital like he has done almost every Thursday of his five years as a Michigan offensive linemen.
This time, as his teammate, Taylor Lewan said in an introductory speech, was different. This time, the party was for him.
Omameh was honored with a surprise ceremony Thursday night at the hospital for being part of the 11-member Allstate AFCA Good Works team, an award given to college football players for their community service work.
Sweating profusely, Omameh was stunned. He had known he had been named as part of the team, selected from a pool of 117 candidates and Michigan's first team member since Zoltan Mesko. He had no idea he would be presented his award in front of some of the families he helps each week, media members and around 20 teammates who showed up to help celebrate his accomplishments.
“I had no idea,” Omameh said. “No idea anybody was going to be here at all.”
Omameh started showing up at Mott his freshman year, when his offensive line coach, Greg Frey, mandated all his freshmen linemen go to Mott. He was further encouraged by a senior on that roster, David Moosman, to continually show up.
So he did.
And five years later, he is the face of Michigan football at Mott. Others may go, but Omameh apparently shows up the most to visit with the children hospitalized.
“I enjoy it. It’s one of the things that keeps me coming back,” Omameh said. “Just interacting with people in general. Being able to interact with them and making them have a better day, anybody would enjoy that.”
Omameh will often joke that he’s a tennis player with both a strong forehand and backhand. Teammate Jordan Kovacs, who often goes with Omameh to Mott, said the kids pretend they believe the 6-foot-4, 305-pound lineman, but they really don’t.
When Omameh enters a room, though, he sees the children become excited at his presence. Those moments make everything he does worth it -- for both Omameh and the children he is trying to help.
“One of my first visits, I was in a room with Pat and a cancer patient. I was in the room before and it was my first time meeting this kid,” Kovacs said. “Then Patrick walks in, it’s this kid’s 13th birthday, and as soon as Pat walks in this kid’s face just lights up.
“It was just unreal the spark in the room. That was just a special moment.”
One of many over the past five years for Omameh and Mott together.