CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton spent several hours on his off day giving high-fives, hugs and signed pictures to children at Kings Island, an amusement park just outside of Cincinnati.
Interacting with fans and kids are part of Dalton's weekly routine as the face of the Bengals' franchise, but this Sunday was a little different. For some of the kids, even those sporting Dalton jerseys, it was as close as they would ever get to their favorite team. Others had no idea who he even was.
"It's fun for them. It's not every day that you get to meet a guy that's in the NFL," Dalton said. "They get excited. Some kids know exactly who you are, and some have no idea. They just know that they get to go to Kings Island. You get both sides of it."
Dalton and his wife, Jordan, have hosted their 'King for a Day' event since 2012. The event is one of several put on by the Andy and Jordan Dalton Foundation, which helps families in the Cincinnati area with children who are ill or have special needs. 'King for a Day' gives the families a free day at Kings Island, along with lunch with the Daltons.
"These families and these kids are fighting through a lot of different scenarios and situations. We're just trying to give them a day to not worry about that, not think about that, to just have fun and be a normal kid and a normal family," Dalton said. That's why this day is special to us."
This year, about 50 families attended the event, which varies in size from year-to-year. Dalton said his favorite part is hearing about families who come back for a second or third time.
"All they talked about was how [much] fun the kids had. It was their vacation," Dalton said of one family. "They couldn't take a family vacation. ... I think that's exactly what we’re trying to accomplish, [to] give these kids and their families a time to have fun and a good experience."