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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Graham Zusi’s routine visit to Children’s Mercy Hospital turned into a special surprise.

Greeted by balloons, signs and cheers — the kids were the first to let him know of his MLS All-Star bid, the seventh of his career. The Sporting star was overcome with emotion Tuesday as tears fell from his eyes during the big surprise.

“Seeing the kids and nurses that help so much, it made it quite a special day for me,” he said.

Zusi and the rest of Sporting KC volunteer at the hospital at least once a month, playing games and interacting with the children.

For someone who gives so much of himself to others, the kids were happy to give back to the Sporting defender.

“Amazing, being able to do something important,” Gloria Motley said.

Tuesday’s event was also a surprise for Motley. She said her favorite part of the day was meeting Zusi.

“I was kind of nervous to meet him. But it was very awesome to meet him,” Motley added.

While he doesn’t savor the spotlight, on Tuesday Zusi was center stage.

Graham Zusi

“It’s an amazing feeling. If anyone knew me, this is not what I like as a person, to do it in front of a crowd. But if it had to be done, this is the way,” Zusi said.

“They’re not here to make a name for themselves. They’re here to make a difference in the lives of these children,” Volunteer Program Coordinator Trista Williams said.

Zusi’s a difference-maker on the field and also in the lives of many kids at Children’s Mercy.