Hamilton Tiger-Cats send video messages to families amid COVID-19 cancellations
'It’s just a very easy way to reach out and help people and maybe brighten somebody’s day'
Chris Van Zeyl would be gearing up for the start of the CFL season right now it weren't for the novel coronavirus — instead, he's wishing people a happy birthday.
COVID-19 has spoiled birthday parties, weddings and other events, but the Hamilton Tiger-Cats are pouncing at the chance to raise people's spirits by having players send video messages to people affected by the pandemic.
Had to cancel your kid’s birthday party? 😔<br><br>Couldn’t attend your best friend’s wedding? ☹️<a href="https://twitter.com/CVZ54?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CVZ54</a> and the guys are sending personal video messages! Comment below with details of what was missed and we’ll do our best to turn frowns upside down! 🙂<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Ticats?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Ticats</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CFL?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CFL</a> <a href="https://t.co/vPKCri8bxa">pic.twitter.com/vPKCri8bxa</a>—@Ticats
Van Zeyl posted on Ticat social media platforms on Thursday asking people to tell the team how they've been affected.
"Whatever they need and however we can help, we're here to help," the offensive lineman said.
"Everybody has potential to change somebody's day and brighten somebody's day ... social media gets all this flak for negativity but you still have all these opportunities to do something positive as well."
<a href="https://twitter.com/nicklebackfan87?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@nicklebackfan87</a> Happy 9th birthday, Peyton! Our apologies...<a href="https://twitter.com/Simoni_Lawrence?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Simoni_Lawrence</a> is much better at football than he is at singing! Hope you have a great day. <a href="https://t.co/x5kI7NczCl">pic.twitter.com/x5kI7NczCl</a>—@Ticats
So far, linebacker Simoni Lawrence has sent out at least one happy birthday wish, his voice cracking as he belted out a song to a nine-year-old.
"I can't wait 'til the season starts so I can come and give you a big high five," he said, with a wide smile.
(The Ti-Cats apologized for Lawrence's singing, noting he's much better at football.)
<a href="https://twitter.com/CanadaDeanna?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CanadaDeanna</a> Sorry to hear about the big birthday trip cancelation, Mark! <a href="https://twitter.com/DalyNews8?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@DalyNews8</a> has some alternative suggestions! <a href="https://t.co/7tDwS92vVj">pic.twitter.com/7tDwS92vVj</a>—@Ticats
Defensive back Mike Daly also sent out warm wishes.
"Mark, sorry to hear your birthday trip got cancelled because of the quarantine," he said.
"Maybe you can turn a tap on, close your eyes ... pretend you're at a beach or something."
Van Zeyl made his first batch of videos Thursday evening, after putting his son to bed.
Some of the requests came from kids and others from adults, asking for birthday party wishes and help promoting fundraisers.
He thinks the initiative will spread throughout the CFL.
"It's just a very easy way to reach out and help people and maybe brighten somebody's day and change somebody's outlook," he said.
"And that's really all your looking for, trying to do a little bit of good in the world when all this negativity is around us."