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Vaught’s note: Reese Kemp (@ReeseKemp2) is a freshman at West Jessamine High School in Nicholasville who has cystic fibrosis and diabetes. His father also passed away when he was only 5 years old and the family was living in Nebraska at the time. But he’s a remarkable young man that has become a friend of such UK basketball players as John Wall, Nerlens Noel, Eric Bledsoe, Terrence Jones and others. He has helped feed families at Thanksgiving, helped kids receive toys at Christmas and given Valentines to the needy. Now he’s also been to a basketball game this season thanks to Big Blue Nation Cares. He had lower arena seats for Wednesday’s win over Mississippi State. Enjoy what he thought of the game.
By REESE KEMP
Wow!!! That’s the first thing that comes to mind when I think about last night’s UK basketball game! It was amazing! The atmosphere there was something I’ve never seen before and the fact Andrew Wiggins was there was a huge bonus!!
I had a great time. The seats were amazing, perfect seats actually. My friend, Trey, And I loved them!! Also to see the student section right in front of me was something special
It’s great to see how much our university cares and I love UK basketball! To watch the fans cheer for Brian Long when he went in was awesome because that is my dream to be a walk-on at UK!
Just want to give a big thanks to everyone who helped give me the tickets and hopefully I go to the Florida (game) to support UK!
By LARRY VAUGHT
When the tornado devastated West Liberty, Kentucky coach John Calipari went there to help with a fundraising telethon that came about partially because of a plea UK fan Rose Lykins made on Kentucky Sports Radio.
On Saturday, Lykins and her husband were in Rupp Arena to watch UK play Texas A&M thanks to Big Blue Nation Cares, a group that provides UK football and basketball game tickets for deserving fans. Lykins and her husband got front row seats and a hotel room from BBN Cares.
“I can’t tell you how much my husband and I enjoyed the game. It’s a shame Kentucky didn’t win, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” Lykins said. “I was able to get (former UK coach) Joe B. Hall’s autograph, which was more than I ever hoped for.”
I was able to spend a few minutes with Lykins before the game. Enjoy her comments on the video.
(photos by Clay Jackson, Victoria Graff, Angie Goodwin and Gary Moyers. All rights reserved, property of vaughtsviews.com and Schurz Communications, Inc.)
By LARRY VAUGHT
Fans at Monday’s Kentucky-Transylvania game got to give a “Thumbs Up For Lane” when George Goodwin, the father of Lane Goodwin, was introduced and brought to midcourt. Lane Goodwin fought a courageous three-year battle with cancer before dying last month after he captured the hearts of many.
Big Blue Nation Cares made it possible for George Goodwin to be an honorary assistant coach for the game and not only sit on the bench with UK coach John Calipari, but also spend most of the day with him. Goodwin’s wife, Angie, and son, Landon, also had front row seats at the game thanks to Big Blue Nation Cares.
Enjoy the photos, including the one where cheerleaders Dylan Smith and Stephannie Johnson got other cheerleaders together to pose for a picture with Angie and Landon.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky’s exhibition game against Transylvania Monday is special because it gives the hometown Division III team a chance to play in Rupp Arena, gain national exposure and add money to its basketball budget.
However, this event should be even more special this year.
An attendee at the John Calipari Fantasy Camp who submitted the top bid to be an assistant coach at a UK game this year has worked through Big Blue Nation Cares — an organization that provides UK basketball and football tickets to special fans — to give his spot to the family of Lane Goodwin.
Goodwin is the 13-year-old Kentucky boy from Beech Grove who drew more than 300,000 fans to his Facebook page following his battle with cancer. He died last month after nearly three years of battling the illness. The “Thumbs Up for Lane” campaign inspired many and FOX 56 news anchor Jennifer Palumbo even had her picture taken with John Calipari’s team giving the “thumbs up” to Lane. He was also a big St. Louis Cardinals fan and the team remembered him during its National League playoff run.
His family released this statement thanking everyone for their support and involvement: “We would like to thank the community for the incredible display of human kindness over the past two and a half years. Our sweet Lane had a beautiful smile. He was full of energy and loved sharks, fishing, soccer, adventure and his brother, Landen. Lane had an incredible Christian faith, and we are able to find peace in the extraordinary life he lived in his short few years.”
While there has been no official word about anything special Monday, don’t be surprised to see this happen. No one has reached out to UK fans more than Calipari and this is something Kentucky fans — and players — would embrace. It would also help raise awareness about childhood cancer. Apparently Lane’s father will be on the bench and his mother and brother will be sitting in the front row at Rupp several seats down from former UK coach Joe B Hall.
Certainly it would be an emotional night for Goodwin’s family, but obviously he was a special young man and somehow you have to think he would enjoy looking down from heaven and watching his family enjoy this night thanks once again to a friend of Big Blue Nation Cares who generously gave up his spot on the bench with Calipari to someone who will appreciate it even more. The donor says Dick Vitale’s speech at the fantasy camp helped inspire him to reach out to the Goodwin family. He hopes Vitale understands the impact his speech that day made not only on him but how moved/inspired many were by the time he spent at the camp.
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The front row seats used by Big Blue Nation Cares each year are a result of a joint effort between BBNC members and former UK sports information director Russell Rice, a 2011 UK Hall of Fame Inductee.