Wednesday, December 28, 2011

An Auburn Christmas Wish Come True


It's been a while since I updated my blog and that's evidenced by the fact that I haven't even taken the time to do race reports on my last two marathons. I felt like this story was a good one to write about though. The race reports will be updated soon but this one has been on my mind so here goes...

Many people who do not live in the South or who did not grow up in the State of Alabama may not get the significance of the following story but so many of us who live, or have lived here, will understand completely. Auburn University and our football team is a way of life for many of us. As a child, I grew up watching Auburn establish itself as a football powerhouse with such greats as Bo Jackson. I went on to graduate from Auburn Univerity in 1996 and I continue to bleed Orange and Blue.


A few weeks ago I was given the opportunity to get some tickets to see the Carolina Panthers play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The big problem was that it was on Christmas Eve and with so many things going on, I wasn't sure that I could pull it off. I knew my 10 year old, Parker, would love to see the Panthers play because his favorite football player, Cam Newton, is their starting quarterback. You see, last college football season, Parker got to see Auburn University do something that I had never gotten the opportunity to see them do, win a National Championship. Cam Newton, as everyone knows, played a huge role in that National Championship.

We actually had a choice of where we wanted to sit so I told Parker he could decide where we would sit. We could sit in the club level on about the 40 yard line and see every play that Cam made. Or, we could sit in section 118 on the 4th row, in the corner of the endzone on the visiting side. I told him he "might" get the chance to see Cam score a touchdown

and get an opportunity to "maybe" get a football from Cam. In my mind I knew the chances of him getting said football were about a million to one. Obviously, the optimistic mind of a 10 year old prevailed and he chose to sit in the endzone and get the "chance" to see Cam score and get a ball! Even before the game started, he told me several times that he felt like he was dreaming and that he couldn't believe we were actually going to see Cam play in an NFL game. He thanked me on several occassions for his Christmas present.

As the introductions started the excitement grew. I have been to hundreds

of college football games but this game was only my second NFL game. The atmosphere is completely different but it is a different kind of excitement. It's hard to explain but if you have ever been to both NFL and college games, you know what I mean. On the first drive, Cam broke the NFL Rookie passing record held by Peytin Manning. The fun had begun!

As an Auburn fan, I watched last year as the media and other Universities tried to destroy Cam's reputation both on and off the field. He was accused of everything imaginable as a "cheater" at Auburn and he was labeled as a quarterback who would never succeed at the NFL level. Even this year, people such as Terry Bradshaw said that they would've taken

every quarterback available in the draft over Cam, even Blaine Gabbert at Jacksonville. So, to see Cam not only be successful, but to be a star in his own right has been satisfying to say the least. During this game, Cam showed off. He even ran for a 49 yard touchdown that reminded me of a similar run that he made against LSU last year. To see all of these things in one game was amazing for both Parker and me. Quite honestly, it was just like watching a game at Auburn last year. Pure domination by a superior athlete.

There was a huge downside to all of the fun on the field though. Each touchdown that the Panthers scored was in the opposite endzone. Ball after ball went to other kids and I knew in my mind that the odds were getting smaller and smaller for the Panthers to score in our endzone. At the end of the 3rd quarter the Panthers scored again giving them a total of 41 points. I told Parker at that time there was really no chance we would see a Panther touchdown on our end. If you watch the NFL like I do, you know that 41 points is a ton of points for one game and many teams won't score again with that many on the board. Little did I know at the time, I was wrong.

The Panthers started the fourth quarter by immediately driving to our end of the field getting in the Red Zone quickly. As I had on the previous few occassions that they had done so, I told Parker to go down to the rail and get ready, "just in case". It was a bit chilly during the game so Parker had a hoodie on over his Auburn hat. I told him each and every time to take

the hoodie down and let Cam see the Auburn hat. I also told him to yell "War Eagle" as loud as he could because everyone else in the staduim would be yelling Cam's name if he scored.

The Panthers drove down to the 8 yard line and that is when the something amazing happened. The ball was snapped and everything seemed to happen in slow motion from that point forward. Cam completed a pass to Jeremy Shockey to the left side. Shockey then broke two tackles and made his way into the endzone, scoring the final touchdown for the Panthers for the day. Stockey threw the ball down which ended up just past the end zone. I watched as Cam came in and celebrated the touchdown with Shockey. He then immediately turned to the side judge and I saw him mouth the words, "Where is the ball?". The referee pointed to the ball and Cam ran

to it and picked it up. I watched as Cam looked straight up at Parker, smiled, and ran straight to him. He then handed him the ball and Parker says he said "War Eagle" as he did so. The next few minutes were such a blur but I do remember Parker running straight to me and jumping in my arms screaming that he got the ball. All of the kids in the section came running to Parker wanting to see the ball and get their pictures made with him. There were even adults that came up and wanted to touch the ball. We were all overwhelmed with excitement.

As things settled down I noticed that Parker was crying. I asked him if he had gotten hurt during the chaos and he said, "No Dad, I'm just so excited that I can't quit crying." About that time I took this picture and one thing comes to mind when I see it, Pure Joy!

I took a ton more pictures as did a bunch of other people in the section. There really aren't any words that can be written or said that would capture the moment for Parker or myself. I have tried to convey the story the best that I could in this blog but I know in my heart that it could never match what happened on Christmas Eve.

On the drive home I lost count of the number of times that Parker told me thank you and that it was the best Christmas present that he had ever gotten. I know he is grateful but I hope he understands the significance of what happened Saturday.

I took so many things away from the events on Saturday but here are a couple of things that come to mind:

-Cam Newton is the real deal. I'm not just talking about talent and ability. Yes, in my opinion, he will be one of the best ever and I believe he will win Super Bowls as an NFL Quarterback. Those things are not what I am talking about though. What I am talking about is his love for the game and his love for the kids who watch him play. At Auburn, he spent his free time tutoring elementary kids. I hear he is doing the same things in the Charlotte area. It's not all about Cam Newton and he has made that abundantly clear.

-Auburn is family. I have no doubt in my mind that Cam gave that ball to Parker because he saw that hat and possibly heard him yell "War Eagle". I have recieved so many messages from Auburn people who have seen the pictures saying how Ausome it was to see Cam give Parker the ball. One of the men in Section 118 actually said to me, "Maybe I should've gotten my son an Auburn hat for the game." I wanted to tell him that being an Auburn fan is way more than wearing a hat. You can't buy family at a convenience store.

I know in my heart that Cam knows what his actions do to others. He understands that he is a role model whether he wants to be or not. What happened with Parker Saturday is a life long memory that he will never forget. I know it was for me too. For any Auburn fan to get to be a part of that day would've been exciting. To be the Dad who got to experience it with his Son, well, I'm not sure if there will ever be another Auburn experience that great for me again. Thank you Cam for being such a great Auburn man. We are proud of you and I know one 10 year old that will be pulling for you and the Panthers for many years to come! War Eagle!

81 comments:

  1. Beautiful, beautiful story! I am so happy for Parker. (and you, because I know that there is nothing better for a dad that loves his children than to see their dreams come true)

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  2. I am crying with you, Parker. War Eagle!

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  4. Wow; just wow! WAR CAM EAGLE!

    p.s. I'd have that photo of Cam handing the ball to Parker blown up into the biggest poster the resolution would allow. PRICELESS! =)

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  5. Great story! We saw the game and just loved seeing Cam give the ball to the boy. I have just one question now; in the picture above, the boy is holding a sharpie...is he hoping Cam will read this and come sign the ball next? I would not be surprised if he did just that! Cam is just that kind of man. AU-SOME!

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  6. That is AUsome! War Eagle Parker!

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  7. Great story. There is nothing like watching your kids when they are truly excited and full of pure joy.

    We are fortunate to be Auburn fans and get season tickets for the last 15 years. My 2 younger daughters (19 & 16 yo), my wife and I have been going to AU games since they were 4 & 1 years old.

    We bleed O&B. Because of my job, I have been able to have my girl photos and autographs with many players and coaches. We are blessed to have a great coach (Gene Chizik) at Auburn.

    War Eagle Brother. I am pumped up for you and Parker!

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  8. Pure greatness, had me in tears. War Eagle!!

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  9. I'm a Bama fan and I even cried over this story! I hope Cam will continue to be a role model both on and off the field. Who knows, maybe Parker will be inspired to grow into being just as great of a role model as well!

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  10. Truly incredible!!! I found a video of the two of you on YouTube that I think you will enjoy! Thanks for sharing.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yVKfu-F4Ng

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  11. AUsome story, I am crying as I read it! What an amazing memory for you and Parker. War Eagle!

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  12. I had the opportunity to read this post on charlotteobserver.com, and I don't typically read personal articles, especially ones this long. But I'm such a huge Cam fan, and seeing what he did on Christmas Eve was just phenomenal. And I just had to read the article, and I must say, I'm glad I did read it. There's so much love that comes from that article, it's ridiculous. A father and son bonding is just priceless, and I'm sure Cam enjoys hearing about how he can make a kids day! Thanks for posting this, and thanks to the CO for sharing it on their site, or I would have never been able to read it.

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  13. I remember seeing you and your son embrace moments after Cam gave him the ball, and a tear literally came to my eyes. Great story!

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  14. Ha that video makes you look like a liar, but you can tell that those were two different balls he gave away apparently. I wonder why the video tried to make it look like he gave your boy LaFell's ball instead of Shockey's?

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  15. This is so cool, and a great post.

    I saw you guys on TV on Christmas eve. So happy for you.

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  16. WDE… What a great memory for your son!!!

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  17. Thanks for sharing this wonderful story! I was born in Auburn, went to Auburn (as did my husband), and even though we live in Texas now we still love the orange and blue and big supporters of Cam Newton!!! Truly amazing day! My 7 year old daughter even liked it and said Parker's hat was just like hers. Except one small detail hers is pink, but its still Auburn! Thanks again!

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  18. Wonderful post and an even more wonderful story. This is what not only Cam Newton is about but what the entire Auburn family stands for. War Eagle!

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  19. Yes, you told the story just right....beautifully. I started crying when you described Parker getting the ball and kept crying through the rest of the article and the posters opinion. War Eagle!

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  20. http://www.panthers.com/media-vault/videos/Season-Of-Giving/4e998f53-370d-4014-9b31-10d1ccf1a7c5

    I wanted to make sure you saw this video, your boy is on it around the middle.

    I am a die hard Panthers from NC living in Brasilia, Brazil. My family has had 2 PSLs since the beginning-1995. There have been many ups and downs over the last 17 years but never have we had so much HOPE for the future as we do now with Cam. I loved your story and we welcome all Auburn fans to join the Carolina Panther community!

    Go Panthers!
    Joseph

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  21. Great post! We just moved to chicago from NC but my 9 year old only wanted panther gear!

    Brad

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  22. Great post! We just moved to chicago from NC but my 9 year old only wanted panther gear!

    Brad

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  23. Thanks Chris for sharing this story and for allowing Jay Coulter to post it on TET.

    It was hard to read the last few lines though with water filling my eyes.

    Loved the way you told the story as well. So many good lines but my favorite is:

    "You can’t buy family at a convenience store."

    Cam is for real and so is the Auburn family!
    War Eagle!

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  24. Tremendous story and kudos to both dad and son. Such special times cement a bond between father and son, and they will cement an important bond between a professional athlete role model and a young man who has a memory to treasure for a lifetime. Thanks for writing this story. It brought tears to my eyes, too.

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  25. Tremendous story and kudos to both dad and son. Such special times cement a bond between father and son, and they will cement an important bond between a professional athlete role model and a young man who has a memory to treasure for a lifetime. Thanks for writing this story. It brought tears to my eyes, too.

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  26. Amen! Love our Cam! War Eagle! AU family ALL IN!
    Ashley (class of 1994 Auburn)

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  27. Beautiful story! I am tearing up right now - so proud for you and Parker!

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  28. this is a wonderful blog and so reminds me of a time many years ago when i had my son at an Angels spring training game. one in which was right before Bo Jackson's final retirement. Everyone out in left field was yelling..Bo Bo and he would not turn around. i graduated from Auburn in 1984 about 6 months pregnant with Pagan at the time and had many opportunities to see Bo live. I am also proud to say that my cousin was Bo's high school football coach so even more exciting to see the response when i leaned into my son and said watch this..... i yelled War Eagle as loud and proudly as i could. Bo immediately turned around and grinned and waved...my son looked up to me in awe and said ..."wow Mom... Bo knows you!" of course he didn't really know me personally but he did recognize the Auburn family that we are all apart of.

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  29. this is a wonderful blog and so reminds me of a time many years ago when i had my son at an Angels spring training game. one in which was right before Bo Jackson's final retirement. Everyone out in left field was yelling..Bo Bo and he would not turn around. i graduated from Auburn in 1984 about 6 months pregnant with Pagan at the time and had many opportunities to see Bo live. I am also proud to say that my cousin was Bo's high school football coach so even more exciting to see the response when i leaned into my son and said watch this..... i yelled War Eagle as loud and proudly as i could. Bo immediately turned around and grinned and waved...my son looked up to me in awe and said ..."wow Mom... Bo knows you!" of course he didn't really know me personally but he did recognize the Auburn family that we are all apart of.

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  30. this is a wonderful blog and so reminds me of a time many years ago when i had my son at an Angels spring training game. one in which was right before Bo Jackson's final retirement. Everyone out in left field was yelling..Bo Bo and he would not turn around. i graduated from Auburn in 1984 about 6 months pregnant with Pagan at the time and had many opportunities to see Bo live. I am also proud to say that my cousin was Bo's high school football coach so even more exciting to see the response when i leaned into my son and said watch this..... i yelled War Eagle as loud and proudly as i could. Bo immediately turned around and grinned and waved...my son looked up to me in awe and said ..."wow Mom... Bo knows you!" of course he didn't really know me personally but he did recognize the Auburn family that we are all apart of.

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  31. Chris what a great story and just look at the memories you have made with your son. Nothing can ever take that away. If you remember from college days I am a Bama girland that simply wont change, but everything you said in regards to #1 is so right on. LOVE the blog. Proud Parkers dreams came true. Domination is so true for #1! What an athlete he truly is! Great blog! (Tonya Franklin Dale)

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  32. WAR EAGLE!
    There should have been a disclaimer about needing tissues before reading this story!
    Thank you for highlighting this amazing day for you and your son and for highlighting the AUsome person that Cam is!
    WAR EAGLE!
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family!

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  33. Amazing story. And when he's all grown up he's not really gonna look at Cam as his hero, it's going to be you for providing him with moments like those.

    I love my Panthers. I love Cam. I thank God every day that he was able to grow and mature at a place like Auburn which made him what he is today.

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  34. I'm a firm believer that a great college community, support and the staff make great athletes achieve the greatest of success. And they always identify themselves with that community. Cam will always be Auburn just like Jordan always wore Tarheel blue shorts under those Bulls red ones.

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  35. One cannot read this wonderful story with dry eyes! We, at Auburn have been trying to tell everyone outside the family this all along. He is a wonderful role model and genuine caring person. Thanks to Parker and his Dad for giving this old Tiger a reason to smile and to continue cheering for his beloved Auburn Tigers and now..The Carolina Panthers!

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  36. AUsome story. I saw him give the ball to Parker. Wow!!! War Eagle!!!! and Go Panthers!!!!

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  37. What an AUsome story. I'm sitting at my desk and can't stop crying just thinking about how happy and excited Parker must have been. I'm sure that was the BEST Christmas present ever and will always be remembered for years to come.

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  38. War Eagle! A story as unlikely as Auburn's National Championship run was last year. Both made possible by Cam!

    Thanks for sharing.

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  39. Wow, tears streaming down my face! SO happy for you and Parker to experience that. War Eagle from Birmingham!

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  40. Thanks, Chris. I cried too last night when I read your blog. My son forwarded the link to me and many of his friends. I am sure he was thinking about the times we went to AU games when he was young.

    But the big news in Charlotte today is that your blog was printed on page 3C of the Charlotte Observer's sports page. In print it fills a half of a page. Headlines is "Cam makes a War Eagle's Christmas".
    By the way, we are still National Champs...for 10 more days. WDE J. Roberts, Charlotte.

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  41. Truly a great story and and wonderful gift. As Emirito said, "Amazing story. And when he's all grown up he's not really gonna look at Cam as his hero, it's going to be you for providing him with moments like those." Well done, Dad.

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  43. great story, thank you!

    AU grad 1990

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  44. Just plain AUsome!!! As a sports fan and an Auburn fan I know it couldn't have gone any better if you had scripted it yourself. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and WDE!!!!!!

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  45. This picture has been circulating but I did not know the whole story! TEARS!!! What an awesome story!!!!! And WAR EAGLE!!!!!!

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  46. Love this story! As a life long Auburn Fan, Auburn Graduate, and Charlotte, NC resident. I have gotten several opportunities to see Cam play this season. And I love that stories like these are happening! Brings tears to my eyes. As with Cam's talent and character he is proven what you and I never doubted! Thanks for sharing! And WAR EAGLE!

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  47. Great story! There's also some video of it here:

    http://www.panthers.com/media-vault/videos/A-Newton-Wired/f180dcc1-af02-4eb7-94c4-e2359c14f4b6

    War Eagle!

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  48. Great moments like this happen because good fathers like you set the stage for them. I am thankful that Cam came to us at Auburn and will always be part of the AU Family. He is so much fun to watch--always looks like he is having FUN! I pray that he will keep that good attitude and be a good role model for so many who are watching him--I believe he will!

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  49. Proud of Cam for giving your son the ball. More proud of dad for setting the stage for it to happen. You're the hero IMHO.

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  50. That was purely amazing. I am so happy Parker got to experience that wonderful occasion. You are an AUsome dad and have brought tears to my eyes.

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  51. Wow! Had me in tears... On way to chick fil a bowl and found this in my feed. Love it. Thanks for sharing!

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  52. I saw Cam play for the first time a few weeks ago myself - a loss to Atlanta. But the first half was pure joy watching him lead the offense. War Eagle!

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  53. Not only did this make me full of pride and tears of joy for you and your son's experience, but perfect description of what it means to be part of the Auburn Family! Cam was and will always be an example of giving back to others and never forgetting who gave him his chance to go beyond his own dreams! Like so many others, Bo, Pat Sullivan, etc. they are role models that chose Auburn for this very reason!

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  54. What a remarkable story! And very well written. I felt like I was right there watching it happen. As incredible as the story itself, is how much you can create bonds from Auburn and make them last. We call it the Auburn Family. Most other fans dont get it, but the Panthers are starting to see what kind of passion and pure joy comes from our Tigers, now passed along to the Panthers. When Cam got drafted they inherited at least 85k new fans. Keep making us proud men and women of AUBURN. WAR EAGLE, HEY!

    Auburn Alum 2001

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  55. I went to a Big 10 school and I thought we loved football until I married a man who went to Auburn. Though I didn't go there myself, Auburn has definitely become my adopted team (my husband made me say "Bama sucks" in our wedding vows).

    Your story was so touching, it made me teary eyed. What a spectacular moment for you and your son to share!

    War eagle!

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  56. I love this story. It made me cry. War Eagle!

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  57. I am an Alabama Fan--(TRUE AND TRUE) but that story and that action on Cam's part is short of amazing!! I am so very happy for Parker and I am so happy for Parker's Dad! Those pictures are awesome and I know an evening which will be forever remembered.

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  58. I was just watching a sports channel and happened to see a clip of Cam throwing the ball to your son!! So wonderful!

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  59. War Eagle always!!!! I haven't been able to see Cam play in a game in my area of NW Alabama yet. Hope to soon. Mary '75

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  60. Just proves that whether your a little boy or the dad of a little boy, dreams really can come true for both. Cam is an amazing athlete, but he's so much more than that on the inside. The Auburn Family will never forget what Cam went through on and off the field, nor will they ever forget that he was an intragral part of that 2010 team that won the National Championship. And just as important your son will never forget that Cam single handedly made him a star by handing him that football. How AUsome for him and your family!!

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  61. Just proves that whether your a little boy or the dad of a little boy, dreams really can come true for both. Cam is an amazing athlete, but he's so much more than that on the inside. The Auburn Family will never forget what Cam went through on and off the field, nor will they ever forget that he was an intragral part of that 2010 team that won the National Championship. And just as important your son will never forget that Cam single handedly made him a star by handing him that football. How AUsome for him and your family!!

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  62. Just proves that whether your a little boy or the dad of a little boy, dreams really can come true for both. Cam is an amazing athlete, but he's so much more than that on the inside. The Auburn Family will never forget what Cam went through on and off the field, nor will they ever forget that he was an intragral part of that 2010 team that won the National Championship. And just as important your son will never forget that Cam single handedly made him a star by handing him that football. How AUsome for him and your family!!

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  63. Great story!

    War Eagle & Merry Christmas, Parker!

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  64. What a great read. I am a die hard Panthers fan since 96. I graduated from UNC Charlotte in 2001 and I now live in Los Angeles. My college team didn't have a football team, so I never watched that much college football. It has always been about the Panthers.

    I've gone through so much agony rooting for the Panthers, but something tells me things will be different for the next decade or so.

    Your son's pic is priceless. What a beautiful moment for your son, for you and your family.

    Go Panthers!

    Fisseha

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  65. What a great read. I am a die hard Panthers fan since 96. I graduated from UNC Charlotte in 2001 and I now live in Los Angeles. My college team didn't have a football team, so I never watched that much college football. It has always been about the Panthers.

    I've gone through so much agony rooting for the Panthers, but something tells me things will be different for the next decade or so.

    Your son's pic is priceless. What a beautiful moment for your son, for you and your family.

    Go Panthers!

    Fisseha

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  66. Read the story in the paper and said, "Hey, that's J.P.! I want to see that ball at school!
    Sue Smith
    Librarian,Ooltewah Elementary

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  67. "You can't buy family at a convenience store." I love your use of this statement. Truer words have never been spoken. War Eagle!

    Bill Horton
    Auburn '97

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  68. What a great story...after reading all of the comments before mine I am not ashamed to say I am a (52 year old man) that teared up as well. I think one of the comments I read had a brilliant point in that he thought Cam grew up when he became an Auburn man and exposed to what being an Auburn man in the Auburn Family and was all about. Not only did we receive many blessings from his talent while he was with us at Auburn but he was also blessed while at Auburn as well. I think being exposed to OUR Spirit, Sense of Family, and never give up attitude and learning what is expected from Real Auburn Men and Women allowed him to mature into the man he is now...that maybe he wasn't before he got here.

    WAR CAM EAGLE, GO PANTHERS, AND RTR BABY(Roll Toomer's Roll anyway!!! Bammers

    W. Barry Panter
    Auburn '82

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  69. WOW!!!!!!!!!!!! Although I am an Oklahoma St. Fan, & My favorite NFL Team is the St. Louis Rams, & My favorite quarterback is Sam Bradford, I thought that this was a beautiful story!

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  70. This is such a wonderful well said article. I truly believe that Cam is a really good person. You are so right on how everybody tried to tear him down last year. You really understand how it is to be a true Auburn fan or Auburn graduate. There are just some things you can buy or chose off a rack to be. Cam is great and I wish him the best. I got a chance to see him play in Atlanta and New Orleans on last Sunday.

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  71. What a Ausome story! I cried like it was my kid that got the ball
    Thank you for sharing your story! You are so right about the Auburn Family
    And the "way" of life being a true Auburn fan can be. Last year was an amazing season, but one thing I love most about winning a national
    Championship is having the world get a peak into the Auburn world and people
    From all over taking notice. When ESPN game day visited last year and they announced they have never seen or been around nicer fans and the sense of family in the atmosphere ....well it just makes u
    Proud to be A Auburn Tiger! #Auburnforlife

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  72. Chris,

    Incredible story. Happy for you and your son that Cam Newton was able to make his day. Great running with you this weekend.

    Patrick

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  73. What a great story!! We saw the picture of Parker getting the ball from Cam and were touched, but to read the story was just AUsome!! I loved your quote "you can't buy family at a convenience store" and what a great family we have!! I will take the quality of AU fans over the quantitiy of the other fan base any day!!!
    Thank you for sharing!!
    Lorrie AU'92

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  74. Here is a video i just happened upon after reading your story. It is what Cam was saying in that game, and even shows your son getting the ball.
    http://youtu.be/1yVKfu-F4Ng

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  75. Awesome story. War Eagle. Thanks for taking the time to put it on paper.

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  76. Oh, how I love being apart of the Auburn family! War Eagle, Parker!

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  77. Oh, how I love being apart of the Auburn family! War Eagle, Parker!

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