FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- It was pretty easy to recognize the NFL player in the crowd at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center on Friday, and Oli Udoh got a hero's welcome.
"It was awesome but they're the ones who need the applause right now for everything that they're kind of working through," Udoh said. "So it's awesome, but they're number one right now."
Udoh, a second year player with the Vikings, arranged to have 500 lunches delivered to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, his hometown hospital on Friday.
"For them to drop in, get something to eat real quick," Udoh said. "It really wasn't anything more than that. Just to help them out a little bit for everything they're doing for the community."
Hospital chief operations officer Dan Weatherly said the gesture is much appreciated and well deserved.
"The staff here has just been very resilient, very creative in being able to overcome obstacles and as you can imagine, very courageous," Weatherly said.
Udoh knows the challenges of healthcare work intimately. His dad is a doctor and runs a medical facility just up the road. His mom is a nurse. Oli himself had medical aspirations.
"Right now I'm just trying to play for as long as I can to be honest with you, so I'm not even thinking about that right now," he said.
Now that he's living the NFL dream, ABC11's Mark Armstrong asked Udoh what he'd tell his younger self while at Terry Sanford High School in Fayetteville.
"Honestly, I probably would have told him to start running right away back then, because I was pretty heavy back then," Udoh said. "It's been awesome just being able to call that my occupation. This past year is just crazy and so much fun and competitive like no other, which is why I love it."
The hard work has paid off for him, but Udoh said his visit was about rewarding the hard work of those folks at the hospital. Weatherly again commended the work of the hospital staff.
"These folks every day come in, it's their calling in life to take care of other human beings," Weatherly said. "They come in and make sure they're safe, but they come in every day, and make sure that our communities are taken care of. So I work with a whole lot of heroes here."
NFL player returns home to donate 500 meals at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center
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