When you’re born with fiery red/orange hair, you might just root for a team wearing similar colors.
Such is the case for South Carolina native and Clemson Tiger fan, Brandon. The teenager has spent the majority of his life watching the orange-clad football team play inside Death Valley stadium, tailgating across the country and from a comfy seat at his home. So, it was no doubt that his dream would entail meeting the team he loves so much.
We arranged for him to do just that, providing the Dream Recipient with a meet-and-greet that turned into a moving and motivational experience. Brandon and his family rode to the Clemson campus on a chartered bus decked out for the occasion and featuring a tour guide highlighting the experience. They then visited the team’s new $55 million football complex, complete with the most-advanced training and conditioning equipment. The facility houses everything needed to equip players physically and mentally to take on challengers on and off the field. It also boasts a theater so coaches and players can study their opponents and review film of their own successes and shortcomings.
But it’s the practice field where the preparation takes shape as X’s and O’s are transformed into drills, plays and tactics. And that’s where Brandon’s dream really came to life.
Brandon not only watched the players execute their drills, but spent time talking to them about what it takes to win. Each player encouraged him to keep persevering as he faces dialysis and kidney transplant needed for his condition. They rallied behind the teen the way he has rallied behind them as a fan.
No single player can win alone, and no group of players can succeed without good leadership. For the Clemson Tigers, that leadership comes from head coach Dabo Swinney. In addition to leading his team to national championship appearances and titles, he has gained legendary status for developing talent and uniting the young team towards a common goal. His accomplishments make him quite the inspiration for millions of fans, like Brandon.
Meeting Coach Swinney left Brandon unable to contain his emotions, but ironically, it was the coach who felt inspired by the Dream kid. The coach offered words of wisdom that challenged Brandon to remain positive, focused and determined and stressed the importance of maintaining a good attitude. It was truly a motivational and moving experience as the two shared mutual admiration.
After leaving Clemson, Brandon and his family ended the day by enjoying one of his other passions – fishing. As they cast their lines into the water from the boat and waited on a bite, the teenager could reflect upon the day’s activities with a smile. The experience of meeting his favorite team and coach and taking a run down the iconic Clemson gave Brandon a chance to truly feel like a Clemson Tiger.