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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.