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September 17, 2013In July, University of Memphis senior quarterback Jacob Karam made a visit to St. Jude Children's research hospital.
It wasn't set up by the team or anybody else; he went on his own time to see the children. While he was there, a young girl patient named Breanna Bercegeay stumbled upon him playing piano.
She ensued to sit down with Karam while he played the piano and she sang for 10 songs, with the video of them doing Jessie J's "Price Tag" going viral.
This was just one instance of Karam's work in the Memphis community.
Tuesday morning, he was making another visit to the hospital, thinking it was for a sports-themed event for the patients. Little did he know, it was a ceremony to honor him being selected as the first ever Memphis player to be named to the 2013 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.
Karam walked into to find a room full of people clapping and cheering for him, including the little girl who came up to him that day to sing, Breanna.
"I'm so humbled, I just really don't know what to say," said Karam after receiving his award.
"I'm incredibly blessed with an incredible team and family. Everything that St. Jude stands for is just amazing to me. The founder, Danny Thomas, is Lebanese just like our family is and we've always been taught to just have a special love for St. Jude."
It didn't take him but a minute into him talking to mention the little girl that is battling AML Leukemia and the impact meeting her and her family has had on him.
"I got to meet little (Breanna) and I'll tell you, she's made an incredible impact on my life and so have all the other patients that I haven't even met yet because of their courage and their attitude. It's truly inspiring. They're the real heroes and as college athletes we're on a platform and it's amazing that we get so much attention, but the kids that are here fighting and their families are the true heroes."
In the 22-year history of the award, no Memphis player has ever been honored by being named to the Good Works team. His actions have even inspired his teammates.
Senior offensive lineman Antonio Foster, one of Karam's best friends on the team, had inquired to Karam on the history of St. Jude and seemed very interested in everything about it.
"He had a smirk on his face, so I felt like something was up," Karam said.
Foster came to the event and said being there made him wish he had come sooner.
"I would like to visit here a lot. I wish I would have been here before. Jacob brought me here and I told why I wanted to come and now that I'm here, I just want to come more."
Karam was one of 11 players from the Football Bowl Subdivision to be selected for the team. The other 11 come from the Football Championship Subdivision, Division II, III and the NAIA. Fans can vote for the team captain by visiting ESPN.com and entering "Good Works" in the search bar.
There, fans can learn about each player and decide who they think best represents giving back to the community.
When it was all said and done, Karam brushed off the cameras to give another young patient a hug. What else would you expect.