Seven-year-old Evan Durant stood with his mother by the south end zone during the pregame festivities of the Ohio State-Maryland game on Saturday. With the Ohio State Marching Band striking up the beginning notes of Carmen Ohio behind him and the fanfare of the stadium surrounding him, he “felt like royalty.”
Then, Brutus Buckeye motioned for Evan to join him on the field for the alma mater, an unforgettable moment made possible through the OSUMB.
Evan was one of the five children that received the ultimate game day experience from TBDBITL with the help of Special Spectators, an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization that provides seriously ill children and their families with the opportunity to experience game day as a VIP.
“We are all about taking the kids behind the scenes, making them feel a part of the team, like insiders — and the Special Spectators VIP game day experience is no different,” said Kendall Allen, who handles partnerships for the organization. “The kids were riveted the entire time.”
As guests of OSUMB, Special Spectators sat first row for Skull Session, behind the band during the game and stood on the sidelines during the pregame and halftime performances. On top of that, they were able to rub elbows with some Ohio State football players and hang out with Brutus.
Evan’s mother, Kim Durant, said that having these opportunities to forget their worries and make amazing memories is something she and her family will cherish forever.
“These kids have been through so much, and any time they are given a chance to be a ‘normal’ kid is unforgettable,” Durant said. “The smiles on their faces are priceless. We cannot thank Special Spectators and TBDBITL enough for this amazing opportunity.”
Allen, who graduated from Ohio State in 1990 with a BA in English, says that returning to Ohio State with Special Spectators was like everything coming full circle. Allen developed a love for service while at Ohio State through her involvement in Bucket and Dipper, Sphynx and Ohio Staters, Inc.
“I was really involved with the Buckeye community, student organizations, specifically focused on serving the university,” Allen said. “For me, being [at Ohio State] with Special Spectators is a powerful unification of things I cherish and value.”
The game day experience marked the second time that the OSUMB has partnered with Special Spectators. Christopher Hoch, director of the Ohio State Marching and Athletic Bands, said that working with the organization to give kids the best game day experience possible is a joy and privilege for all band members.
“Special Spectators is a wonderful organization, and I’m so glad the Ohio State Marching Band is able to create memories for these children and their families,” Dr. Hoch said. “Our band members were honored to have these brave and remarkable children join us as our guests.”