In August, Washington native, and then-Oakland Raiders tight end Colton Underwood sent a viral shockwave across the internet.
Underwood, 24, asked three-time Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman on a date that traversed nearly every corner of the internet in seemingly no time.
On Tuesday, the couple — who have been dating since late August — visited the Children’s Hospital of Illinois in Peoria. They visited patients, took pictures with staff and Underwood donated $10,000 to the Cystic Fibrosis clinic of the Children’s Hospital on behalf of his Colton Underwood Legacy Foundation.
Underwood’s cousin, five-year-old Harper — who is his inspiration for the foundation — was on hand and visited patients.
“Year one, I had a goal and a vision for the foundation,” Underwood said. “Right now, it’s all coming to fruition. Our long-term goal was to give back and specifically benefit the Cystic Fibrosis clinic here. Cystic Fibrosis is really important to me. My little cousin was diagnosed with it at birth. That’s why I started the football camps and hospital visits. It means a lot to me to be here and to give back.”
Nearly two months ago, Underwood underwent shoulder surgery and is in the process of rehabbing the injury. The Illinois State University All-American is aiming for a comeback in March — before the NFL Draft — depending on how the rehab process goes.
Raisman and Underwood have an understanding in their relationship when it comes to the vigors of working out and staying in shape. After bringing back three medals from the 2016 Rio Olympics, the 22-year-old is taking time for herself with eyes on the 2020 games.
Nonetheless, Underwood is on the rehabilitation path back to the NFL and the two are understanding of their respective schedules.
Finding time to visit the Children’s Hospital of Illinois, however, was a must.
“It makes you reevaluate everything and take a step back and realize how lucky you are,” Raisman said. “Colton will always tell me that sometimes I’m on autopilot, I’m so busy I don’t process things. When you’re traveling all the time it’s go, go, go. That’s the mentality I had when I was training, as well. Being able to do this and actually stop, take a second and meet all these kids is amazing.”
The Olympic veteran has made various hospital visits in her storied career and still keeps in touch with former patients she met along the way.
Harper has already made an impact on Raisman, and Raisman has impacted the five-year-old. Harper has the balancing beam and gymnastics mat of Olympian Simone Biles in her basement, and is perfecting her cartwheel.
“I’m really, really excited to be here. I’ve met Harper a couple of times now,” Raisman said. “... I got to see her treatment (Monday night). I’m learning a lot about it and I’m excited to visit all the kids in the hospital (Tuesday).”
After a brief stint on the offensive side of the football at tight end, Underwood is headed back to defense. At ISU, the 6-foot-3, 255-pounder was a standout defensive end. The brief switch, though it didn’t pan out, will prove helpful as he pushes for a roster spot.
“I’ll be coming back to defense. The offense was interesting, it definitely helped me become a better player and understand the knowledge of the game. I think I’m going to take a lot away from it. It wasn’t a wasted year like many may say. I’m going to take a lot of knowledge away from it,” Underwood said.
Over the summer, Raisman and the “Final Five” captured the hearts of most Americans with their work on the gymnastics team. She parlayed her success into two silver medals at Rio and helped the team win the All-Around gold medal.
The medal represented the value of teamwork, she said.
“I think that a lot of people loved how our team came together. We represent a lot of ‘girl power.’ I think that our team is really diverse and that’s a really special thing. It’s probably one of the most diverse teams that we’ve ever had. I think that’s really special, really amazing,” Raisman said. “With all the craziness and drama of the election, it was kind of cool for everyone to stop and see that we were happy, we were smiling and we were excited. We worked really hard, we had a goal and we did a good job together. We did a good job because we worked together and we got along. I don’t think you can win anything if you don’t get along.”