Clemson punter/placekicker Bradley Pinion (left) and defensive tackle Grady Jarrett spend time with Paul "Vinny" Brock at AnMed Health Medical Center in Anderson.

Clemson punter/placekicker Bradley Pinion (left) and defensive tackle Grady Jarrett spend time with Paul “Vinny” Brock at AnMed Health Medical Center in Anderson.
Image Credit: Contributed

Sometimes the best medicine comes in the form of two Clemson University football players.

Defensive tackle Grady Jarrett and punter/placekicker Bradley Pinion recently visited Clemson fan Paul “Vinny” Brock of Anderson in the respiratory unit of AnMed Health Medical Center – thanks to the efforts of Clemson School of Nursing students who formed a special bond with him.

Earlier this semester, Vinny, who has cerebral palsy, met Andrea Addington and other students who were serving clinical rotations in the AnMed Health respiratory unit.

Andrea and her classmates were assigned to care for Vinny, and the bond between them was instant. “Upon meeting him, he was so friendly with the most positive attitude,” she said. “At this point, he was pretty much bed-bound, but he was very involved with his care and was awesome at helping you understand how to care for him.”

Over time, the student nurses learned more about Vinny’s life and illness, which included frequent visits to the hospital and an upcoming surgery. They also learned that he was a big fan of Clemson football who often went to home games in earlier, healthier days.

It was soon time for the students to go to their next rotation, but their hearts remained with Vinny. “After we left, I asked my instructor how he was doing, and she informed me that he had the surgery and had to be transferred to the ICU (intensive care unit),” Andrea said.

Two weeks later, the student nurses returned for another rotation in the respiratory unit, and there they reunited with Vinny, who had been transferred from ICU back to the respiratory floor.

“We went in to visit him,” Andrea said. “We spoke with him and he seemed tired and weak, and was wondering what life would be like after he got home.”

School of Nursing senior lecturer Nancy Ewing (front, left) and Clemson student nurses pose for a photo with AnMed Health patient Paul "Vinny" Brock and Tiger football standouts Bradley Pinion (back, left) and Grady Jarrett.

School of Nursing senior lecturer Nancy Ewing (front, left) and Clemson student nurses pose for a photo with AnMed Health patient Paul “Vinny” Brock and Tiger football standouts Bradley Pinion (back, left) and Grady Jarrett.
Image Credit: Contributed

It was then that the students began to wonder what else they could do.

“We wanted to make him happy and take his fears away.” Andrea said. “We said goodbye and left his room with a heavy heart, and I started to think that night about what else could be done. I then remembered how much he loved Clemson football and thought that a visit from some football players might cheer him up.”

So, she called Clemson’s Athletic Department and explained the situation to staff members, who put her in touch with Grady Jarrett and Bradley Pinion. Within 24 hours, the football standouts were in Vinny’s hospital room, visiting and taking photos with him, and presenting him a signed Clemson hat.

“Their visit made such an impression on the patient – he smiled so big,” Andrea said. “It was a great experience that brought tears to my eyes.”

“Grady and Bradley said, ‘This is what it is all about,’” she added. “And this is what nursing is all about, too – not only treating the patient with medicine, but also remembering that they are people and that we need to treat their spirit as well.”

Nancy Ewing, a senior lecturer in the School of Nursing who supervises the students’ clinical rotations, agrees. “Our students show patients great compassion and view their budding careers as a calling,” she said. “That is great news for the places that will employ them and the patients they will serve.”

It’s certainly been good news for Vinny, who said he was “overjoyed” by the thoughtfulness shown to him by the Clemson student nurses and football players. “It is because of my faith and people like them that I’ve stayed alive,” he said.