Dabo and Kathleen Swinney, Clemson’s Cheerful Givers

Author’s note: The information regarding the All In Team Foundation is courtesy of their website.

Dabo Swinney is an exceptional coach, an inspirational leader, a man unafraid to live his faith, a devoted husband and father. He’s a mentor, an over-believer, tremendously successful and along with his wife, Kathleen, a philanthropist.

Yes, he’s one of those rare individuals that puts his money where his heart is. Like so many that came from a struggle and rose to heights beyond most people’s wildest dreams, these two are giving back and they are living examples of what is meant by paying it forward.

Per the website, since 2009, Dabo’s All In Team Foundation has raised and donated over $7.8M to their core focus areas of breast cancer research, The Family Effect, ClemsonLIFE program, and the Call Me MISTER program. Also, grants to hundreds of South Carolina-based research teams, non-profits, and organizations that have been doing their part to make our communities better.

Breast Cancer Awareness and Research: There is a reason, a very personal reason that this is the core focus area of the foundation. The catalyst for the creation of the All In Team Foundation, like many, was born out of tragedy.

Lisa Lamb, Kathleen’s older sister, battled cancer throughout her young adult life. Then, in 2003, she was pronounced cancer-free from the disease. Unfortunately and sadly, in 2009 the cancer returned but this time it had reached her brain and lungs. In April 2011, she died from the effects of the disease.

Driven by seeing her sister’s brave battle, Kathleen chose to go to a genetic counselor to see if she carried the disease. She found out she did possess the same gene her sister had which meant there was a 90% chance she would end up with breast cancer at some point in her life. Kathleen had several options but decided to have a double mastectomy to drastically decrease her chances of getting the disease to one percent.

In 2018, The All In Team Foundation provided $250K towards a mobile mammography bus, appropriately called Big Pink and in 2022, provided another $250K for its replacement, Big Pink II. It’s helped purchase a cutting edge 3-D mammography machine for Bon Secours St. Francis Healthcare System in Greenville. It also provides screenings for those that can’t afford it.

The Family Effect: The Swinney family has personally felt the impact of alcohol and drug addiction and as a result, the All In Team Foundation is committed to supporting this organization in Greenville, SC that works to reduce addiction as a leading cause of family collapse and harm to children in South Carolina.

Research has shown that addiction in the home is the main reason for family collapse. Additionally, children who grow up with addiction in the household are four times more likely to become addicts themselves. The Family Effect supports a handful of programs including Serenity Place, which provides comprehensive, residential treatment to about 120 pregnant women, young mothers, and preschool-age children each year.

In 2013, Dabo’s All In Team Foundation invested $270,000 in The Family Effect’s mission to build two units of transitional housing for families that successfully complete the program at Serenity Place but need time to find a safe, permanent place to live. In 2015, Mimi’s House was finished, holding two living spaces, each with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a full kitchen.

ClemsonLIFE Program: This program at Clemson University is designed for students with intellectual disabilities who desire a postsecondary experience on a college campus. The mission of the ClemsonLIFE Program is to provide a coordinated course of study that includes career exploration and preparation along with self-awareness, discovery, and personal improvement through a framework of courses, job internships, and community participation. The ClemsonLIFE Program offers a 2-year Basic Program that incorporates functional academics, independent living, employment, social/leisure skills, and health/wellness skills in a public university setting with the goal of producing self-sufficient young adults.

Additionally, the ClemsonLIFE Program offers a 2-year Advanced Program for students that have demonstrated the ability to safely live independently, sustain employment, and socially integrate during the Basic Program. The Advanced Program progresses with an emphasis on workplace experience, community integration, and independent living with transitionally reduced supports. Students who successfully complete the Basic or Advanced program will receive a corresponding certificate of postsecondary education. Currently, there are 40 students participating in the ClemsonLIFE Program.

Call Me Mister: It is an initiative in honor of Jeff Davis. Jeff Davis was the former field director for Call Me MISTER and is the current Assistant Athletic Director of Football Player Relations and founder of PAW Journey at Clemson. The program was founded in 2000 by Clemson, Claflin, Benedict and Morris Colleges and has expanded to more than 19 colleges and universities in South Carolina, as well as to schools in at least 7 other states.

The mission of Call Me MISTER (Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role models) is to increase the pool of available teachers from a broader more diverse background, particularly among South Carolina’s lowest performing elementary schools. Student participants are largely selected from underserved, socio-economically disadvantaged, and educationally at-risk communities.

Grants Program: There are a number of organizations in our community, and across the state, that share the same beliefs concerning critical education and health issues. Many of these organizations have outstanding ideas and concepts on how to be a part of the solution, but are lacking the opportunity and funding to do so. The grant program was set up to give these organizations an opportunity to continue to positively impact our community. Organizations may apply for a maximum award of $10,000 in funding on a single or multi-year basis.

Even after the new jumbotron’s brightness dims, the lights go out in Death Valley, the crowd lulls and they find their way back to that place they call home, the good work both on and off the field continues. The hard work of leaving the world better than you found it, for Dabo and Kathleen Swinney, is a never ending, deep labor of love. Thousands of people have been and will continue to be the beneficiary of their gifts and labors. It’s truly a beautiful living legacy.

It’s hard to imagine but there are a few things more important than the winning of football games and making a difference in the world is one of them. Dabo and Kathleen Swinney have created something that can go on into perpetuity making those it serves better, healthier and happier. In a day and time where the mere amassing wealth is envied and even admired, it’s those that share that which they’ve earned with others that are really worthy of such admiration. May God always bless the cheerful giver.

Below is a video of one of the foundation’s annual fundraisers, The Ladies Clinic. Enjoy.

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2 thoughts on “Dabo and Kathleen Swinney, Clemson’s Cheerful Givers

  1. Love these two, great people to be with if you are down on your luck. Dabo is one of the best coaches to this day.and a great teacher.

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