ClemsonLIFE Program and Football: A Perfect Match

Wednesday was just one of those days. The kind you’d really like to have do over.

It’s on these days, I look for something inspiring, something of meaning and while searching social media, I came across such a story.

It’s heartwarming to see, on full display, the relationship between the ClemsonLIFE program and Clemson football. It’s just one of those special things that makes Clemson uniquely different. Dabo and Kathleen Swinney, through Dabo’s All-In Foundation have been generous supporter’s, not only financially, but in the giving of their time.

The ClemsonLIFE program offers a collegiate experience that prepares young men and women with intellectual disabilities for competitive employment and independent living through a combination of academic coursework and career exploration.

The program is designed for students who desire a post-secondary experience on a college campus. It incorporates functional academics, independent living, employment and social/leisure skills in a public university setting with the goal of producing self-sufficient young adults.

I could go on and on writing about the virtues and worthiness of such a program. However, words pale in comparison to the smiles on the faces of these young people. After a lifetime of being made to feel different, this place, this program gives them the gift of not only feeling normal but being normal.

If you haven’t checked out Clemson Football’s Vlog, check them out. They offer a behind the scenes look at all things Clemson football, They are wonderful.

My favorites are of those showing the joyful interactions between the ClemsonLIFE students and their fellow students that just happen to be football players. I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s hard not to feel a sense of pride and awe that a program like ClemsonLIFE even exists.

They were in attendance at the scrimmage in Death Valley on Wednesday and I’m sure it is one of the favorite days for team and LIFER’s alike. The pictures are worth more than a thousand words because, sometimes words complicate things, this is one of those times. It’s impossible, looking at those photos, to discern who had the most fun, players or the students.

In a world struggling to find a sense of normalcy in the wake of COVID-19, it’s heartening to see, after a three year hiatus, young people, without distinction, having fun. For a few hours, the old normal was beautifully on display.

Obviously, the Clemson football team has played to greater audiences in sheer numbers but I doubt they’ve ever played before a more supportive group, the students of ClemsonLIFE. As Dabo Swinney says “The fun is in the winning,” and I’d add, in this perfect match, it’s also in the giving.

Take 3 minutes to watch this short video and you’ll see utter joy and trust me, it’s the perfect remedy for ‘one of those days.’

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