My name is Tyler Paul, and I'm a redshirt sophomore and a long snapper for the UCF Knights football team. I'm majoring in criminology, intending to join the United States Air Force upon my graduation from UCF. As my first fundraising endeavor in my new role as a Collegiate Ambassador for Big Man Big Heart, Inc., a 501(c)(30 non-profit, I've decided to use my Name, Image, and Likeness to help bring several physically challenged and special needs young adults to experience the joy that is college football by attending the UCF Knights game as we face UConn on November 20th, 2021.
I'm inspired to do this by my relationship with Britt Garcia, also known to many as the UCF Knight's football team's spirited "Little Sister." Britt has been one of the most influential and inspiring people I have ever met. Our friendship started when several of my teammates and I attended a volunteer event at her church in 2019. Little did I know how that event would lead me to one of my most incredible friendships. Britt and I have created a bond through our hearts of service, generosity, and of course, our love for UCF Knights football. After every game, win or lose, I know I will be getting a big hug from her and a reminder of how proud she is of me. Britt brings a level of energy to UCF Football that is truly unmatched. To know Britt is to know joy in the purest form. We often hear the phrase "football is more than a sport," but I never truly understood what that meant before I met Britt. She has shown me how being on the football team has given me the ability to create community, serve others, and inspire. Her love for UCF football runs deep, and I am so grateful that it brought us together.
Britt Garcias is a 24-year-old young woman with Down syndrome who has lived a life focused on positivity and giving back to the community and others who share the same life challenges that she has faced for as long as she can remember. She has volunteered at Ronald McDonald House, helped with toy drives for underprivileged kids during the holidays, and has a passion for community service. Britt has such a special heart and is the most grateful person I know! It is apparent each time we meet how much she LOVES LIFE, and that is infectious.
How your donation can help bring immeasurable joy to Britt and several other local special needs individuals:
Britt and I would like to help bring ten local individuals with special needs to the UCF v. UConn game on November 20th, 2021. We are hoping to raise enough funds to host these young adults and their companions for:lunch, a trip to the bookstore, and pre-game festivities, including tailgating with die-hard UCF fans. Of course, we intend to provide them with accessible tickets for the game and then take them to meet the players after the game to get some autographs from my teammates and me. Britt has taught me to be passionate about giving back, and she is so excited to be able to share the iconic UCF Knights game-day experience with several other young adults who are similarly situated. She and I agree that it is likely to be one of the highlights of their lives. One of the local special needs individuals who is over the moon with excitement over the prospect of being included in this Big Day for Britt's Bunch is Nick Hamel, a 26-year-old Lake Mary Football assistant coach. Nick was born with spina bifida and is on a ventilator. He has struggled to survive his entire life. Nick's presence as a member of the coaching staff at Lake Mary has taught every member of the team and staff to appreciate every moment in life and never take it for granted.
Britt LOVES football, and she loves her Knights! She also loves FSU football because the quarterback she calls her brother, McKenzie Milton, is now a Nole. When she was younger, her Mom could not afford tickets for the UCF games due to the high costs of her medical expenses, but the two of them enjoyed meeting up with friends who were season ticket holders. They would spend a glorious day cooking out, laughing, and playing cornhole. Then, after a fun day of tailgating, the Garcias would go home to cheer for the Knights while watching the game on TV.
Her Mom would budget to take Britt to a single game each year. It was the best day, and Britt loved every minute of it! She was so appreciative that her Mom made some budget changes and bought season tickets.
Fast forward, and like a fairy tale, Britt has found her Knights in shining armor. All 120 of them! Her first Knight was McKenzie Milton, who met her after a game and was kind enough to take off the hat he was wearing, autograph it and give it to her with a hug. Nowadays, she lets everyone know she's "KZ's Little Sis."
Since that day, there have been so many hugs and high fives. The team took her in as a little sister, and like a doting little sister, she has waited at the locker room after EVERY single game to praise them - win or lose - and give just about EVERY player a hug. When she was in the hospital, the Knights sent her a team video to cheer her up. When she was recently ill, they surprised her with 12 get-well cards. When she asked them to volunteer, they volunteered. Tyler was one of those volunteers from the day he stepped on campus. They have a unique friendship and bond, which is beautiful because it's genuine.
Britt and her Mom Jan feel that this team and these football players, coaches, content team, and everyone else in between at UCF football are some of the most selfless, kind, inclusive people in the world. They have made this young woman with Down syndrome and significant speech issues feel important and valuable. They call it "UCFamily," and Britt is so grateful to be a part of this big beautiful family. She desperately wants to share that same feeling of being seen, welcomed, and valued with others faced with the same or similar challenges she has been dealing with for her whole life. So many of Britt's friends have told her that they wish they could go to a UCF game and experience the incredible game-day environment like she does. But, sadly, their families can't afford it with so many medical bills. So when Tyler told Britt about Dillan Gibbons and Big Man Big Heart, she honestly felt like a prayer had been answered.
If you can, please consider donating to Big Day for Britt's Bunch so that we can help bring the joy that is the college football game-day experience to some extraordinary special needs individuals who need it most! If you can't afford to donate, please share this GoFundMe with others who can. All excess proceeds from this fundraiser will be used by Big Man Big Heart for an upcoming holiday initiative which will pair underprivileged children with football players for a pizza party, holiday shopping adventure and other festivities to be announced soon!
About Big Man Big Heart:
Big Man Big Heart, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to encouraging collegiate athletes to use their Name, Image, and Likeness for GOOD. That means that your donations are tax-deductible!
Tax Id No: 87-2111100.