He showed off his many tattoos while swimming with the kids, letting them climb on his back as he paddled about. He sat on the floor with them and listened as they told him about their different heart conditions, joined them in crafts and ate dinner with them.
When it was time to go, the kids hid his car keys, knowing that if you lose something at Camp Taylor you have to sing to get it back.
And so, the quarterback towered over them and was joined by his parents for a chorus of ‘‘This Little Light of Mine,’’ a song he learned in Sunday school.
‘‘He just loves kids, and he ended up spending six or seven hours there,’’ his father said, ‘‘It’s such a great thing for kids and we want that to be successful. We know how hard it is for parents. So we’re pleased he is doing that.’’
While their son has been the definition of coolness under pressure in games and in front of cameras and microphones this week, Rick Kaepernick admits to feelings of anxiety and excitement heading into Sunday. He and Teresa have been watching their son compete all his life but this, obviously, is on a different level.
And while they savor this moment, they'll also be thinking of two little guys who never got to live a full life.
‘‘There’s not a day that goes by we don’t think of the kids,’’ Rick said. ‘‘Everybody grieves differently and you try to get through it. But you never forget.’’
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg