Branum’s passion for life, UK touched Big Blue Nation Cares couple

Cindy and Chris Cruz with Rodney Branum, front, in Nashville. (Larry Vaught/Verizon Photo)

Cindy and Chris Cruz with Rodney Branum, front, in Nashville. (Larry Vaught/Verizon Photo)


Big Blue Nation Cares is a small group of people that helps UK fans with special circumstances attend Kentucky basketball and football games.

During the SEC Tournament, Big Blue Nation Cares arranged for Rodney Branum of Lexington and his family to attend the championship game. Branum came straight from receiving treatment in Houston for his cancer to watch the title game.

On Sunday, he passed away.

I reached out to Chris and Cindy Cruz, two Big Blue Nation Cares members who were in Nashville with Branum, for their thoughts on his passing:

“Our feelings are that we felt very blessed, privileged, and inspired to meet Rodney and his family.  We continue to be amazed at how Big Blue Nation is just one huge, extended family that looks out for each other,” they said. “When we think of Rodney, we are reminded at how precious life really is — and how it can be taken away for unexpected reasons at any time.

“We are reminded that each time you see or speak to a friend or a family member might be the last time — and that you don’t ever want bad feelings or harsh words to be your last memory of the other.  We are reminded that when you have a chance to do something nice for someone else that you’d better jump right on it because you  might not get another chance.

“We were touched by Rodney’s passion for his family and for UK — and the joy they all shared together in rooting for the ‘Cats.  We were reminded that there are so many other families out there whose love for UK is a common bond — and we urge them not to take that passion or the relationships that it strengthens for granted.

“We should all strive to love every day, to laugh every day, and to cry every day.  And, thinking of Rodney, we know that he is now a ‘Big Blue Angel’ in heaven.”

To see more about Branum, check here for a story I did on


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