Club provides unexpected gift

Published 9:25 pm Monday, October 29, 2012

The Strawn family is pictured with members of the Selma Quarterback Club and former Alabama quarterback Brodie Croyle, second from left, after receiving a number of gifts Monday evening. --Tim Reeves

Selma’s Quarterback Club is filled with football fans — both young and old — and on Monday, 12-year-old Blake Strawn was one of them.

Strawn has been a lifelong Alabama fan; he is also fighting a serious illness.

“Blake told his mom and daddy last Thursday, ‘Daddy I never get to see Alabama play,’” Quarterback club member Nick Horne said. “And I thought, baby boy, yes you are.”

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Horne called former Alabama quarterback Brodie Croyle, who was already scheduled to speak at Monday’s club meeting, and asked if he could get a football signed by Nick Saban to give to Blake.

The call for a football, turned into something much more.

“Tonight we have a very special family here,” Horne said during the meeting. “[One of our members] — his son’s been a little sick lately. They’ve had to make some trips out of town to see some doctors, and I have a special presentation for his son and family.”

The Strawn family had no idea the presentation the Quarterback Club had planned for them.

Horne pulled a clear case housing a white Alabama football, signed by Nick and Terry Saban out of a box on the stage. When Blake — decked out in Alabama gear — realized the ball signed by his hero was meant for him, his turned to his mom and hugged her before he could accept the ball.

Horne continued to pull items out of the box. An Alabama baseball cap autographed by Saban, two Alabama jerseys signed by Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron, one for Blake, and one for his 15-year-old brother Tyler, a framed portrait of the 2006 Cotton Bowl and Game Day Tent hats for the family.

The surprises for the family didn’t end there.

“If you’re trying to figure out why [you have Game Day Tent hats],” Horne said. “It’s because when Alabama plays Western Carolina, all four of you are going.”

The Strawn’s looked at each other, completely surprised as they learned they will have four VIP arm bands, a room at the Sheraton Hotel Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and four tickets to Nick at Noon, Saban’s private press conference.

“He wants to meet you,” Horne said to Blake.

The crowd rose to their feet and cheered.

“It means the world to my son,” Blake’s father, Billy Strawn said. “It’s all he’s wanted — to meet Nick Saban and go to an Alabama football game.”

With tears in his eyes Billy only had a few words to say.

“Wow … Unbeliebable,” he said. “I didn’t know any of this was going to happen. I don’t know what else to say, it’s just unbelievable.”

Of the opportunity given to his family, Billy said he just wants Blake to have the best time of his life.

“Without good people, it wouldn’t have happened,” he said.

Horne said Nick Wright of Game Day Tents, Brent Howell of Southern Point Company and Brodie Croyle played a role in making one of Blake’s dreams come true.

“I am really excited about seeing them in Tuscaloosa and helping out as much as we can,” Croyle said. “It’s just really special …”