The culture of sports is something that extends far beyond the field of play. Old or young, big or small, fans from all walks of life connect with sports teams because of the players there, the historic leaders of the team and even the iconic chants that ring out on game day.
Kurt Cherry had a dream to meet his favorite college football team, the Alabama Crimson Tide, but the Charlotte, North Carolina native never had the chance to make the trip south. That dream was realized thanks to one man and his nonprofit foundation who heard about Kurt’s story, and did everything in his power to make that dream become a reality.
At 18-years-old, “Kid Kurt” has lived most of his life without his father or mother in it. Thankfully, Kurt’s cousin and caretaker Joe McLean has been with Kurt every step of the way, and the two are more like brothers than just cousins. Kurt has also found a family at Developmental Disabilities Resources (DDR), who have helped guide Kurt into the person his is today.
Kurt’s dream to meet the Alabama Crimson Tide was heard by DDR, and it fell to the desk of Brandon Lindsey.
Lindsey spent most of his early life climbing the corporate ladder until he found another calling by putting his faith before his work.
“I was at a point in my life where God was saying there is more to this,” Lindsey told WVUA News. “In November of 2012, God laid on my heart that I was chasing trophies which had no value. He laid on my heart a vision of an organization that would make dreams come true for some very special people.”
That faith-based organization became Dream On 3, a nonprofit that helps to bring the dreams of individuals with special needs, who they call “Dream Kids,” to life. When Lindsey heard about the Alabama football fan’s dream, his team sprung into action to set another “Dream Experience” in motion.
On October 12, with the help of DO3, Cherry boarded his first ever plane heading for Tuscaloosa.
Not only did Sigao Studios gift Cherry with an iPad filled with apps created by BridgingApps, a Houston-based company that designs programs specifically for individuals with special needs, the teen was given a giant collection of Alabama Crimson Tide gear.
Then, Cherry got the opportunity of a lifetime to meet, arguably, the greatest college football mind to ever live in Alabama coach Nick Saban.
Was Cherry going to shy away from the moment? Not a chance.
“(Saban) was standing there and Kurt just put his arm around his neck and got the greatest picture in the world,” Joe McLean said. “And I love that about Kurt. He had no nerves, he was meeting his idol and he was going to get the best picture ever – and he did.”
Cherry came back the next day to ride along in Alabama’s homecoming parade, in addition to meeting with a few Alabama sororities and the Crimson Tide cheerleaders.
Cherry’s favorite part of the parade? Belting out ‘ROLL TIDE’ to everyone he rode past.
“The biggest smiles I’ve seen today was when we were in the 1949 truck by Mr. (Jim) Gibbs, all fancied up and Roll Tide and everything, he got to stand up and hold on and wave and ‘Roll Tide’ to everybody for an hour,” McLean said.
Not to be outdone, after watching the team warmup from the sidelines, Cherry and McLean took in Alabama’s dominating 39-10 homecoming win over Missouri.
And what better way to do watch Cherry’s first Alabama football game live in action than alongside the family of his favorite player, sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
Thanks to Brandon Lindsey and Dream On 3, the Crimson Tide family welcomed Kurt with open arms for the weekend trip of lifetime that you know he’ll never forget.