How many of us, as children, dreamed of standing in the middle of a packed sports stadium, basking in the cheers of thousands of people? When Blake Rockwell considered how he might make a positive difference in the lives of seriously ill children, it was this childhood fantasy that inspired him to found Special Spectators.
Blake attended a Landmark program where participants take on a community project. It was there where he forged the idea for Special Spectators: Give seriously ill kids and their families the opportunity to attend college-sporting events. Since the project began, Special Spectators has grown to include 40 participating colleges and universities, who donate tickets. Sometimes they give 10 tickets, sometimes 100.
Word has spread in the college football world that this is a good program with real benefits. Often the kids get the whole college sporting experience: they are invited to participate in special game-day activities, such as attending tail-gate parties, tossing the coin at the beginning of the game, and meeting the players in the locker room. The kids are frequently introduced over the stadium’s PA system, leading to a deafening roar of greetings from thousands of supportive fans at the game.
The organization’s goal is to “provide one of the greatest days in the lives of seriously ill children and their families who attend” the games. One glance at the faces of kids who have participated in a Special Spectators event leaves little doubt that Blake’s project has succeeded in that core mission.