KNOXVILLE – Brothers Matt and Jake Horton started with a simple goal in September.
The Chattanooga natives, using the crowd-funding website FundRazr.com, hoped to raise approximately $300 for a trip to Knoxville with their father to watch Tennessee and Georgia play in Neyland Stadium on Oct. 5.
This wasn’t just any father-son trip, though. It was a request from their father, Ken Horton, who had recently been given approximately two months to live by doctors who have been treating him for stage IV inoperable pancreatic cancer. Despite following the team for many years, Ken had never seen the Vols play in person (you can read the original full story here).
The results? A wildly successful weekend for the Horton family thanks to some generous donations from individuals and businesses.
“It was a really good game – my dad had a blast,” said Matt Horton of Tennessee’s 34-31 loss in overtime to the Bulldogs. “He said it was one of the best times he’s ever had in his life. Even though the Vols didn’t win, it was really close and fun to watch.”
Not only were the Hortons able to make it to Knoxville, they got to experience the weekend in some style. What they hoped would be a day to remember turned into a weekend they will never forget.
The Four Points by Sheraton hotel, located just minutes from the stadium, gave the family a complimentary suite for the weekend. In addition, an individual who heard the Horton’s story reached out to the family on social media and offered free box seats for the game, an offer they accepted.
All other expenses were easily covered by generous donations from their original FundRazr post, which the family voluntarily shut off after it passed $1600 – over five times the original goal.
Deciding which offer to take was one of the most difficult parts of the process. “Numerous” offers to help poured in, including complimentary tickets from the school itself as well as multiple individuals and businesses that offered to help out.
“I think if he had accepted everything we could’ve gone to every game this season,” Matt Horton added.
Ken Horton, though back in the hospital this week, was comfortable and in good spirits throughout that weekend, according to Matt. It won’t erase a painful family situation, but it did provide a temporary relief from the pain and a memory that should last for a lifetime.
“Ecstatic,” was how Matt Horton summed up his feelings about the entire trip. “I thought in the beginning we’d maybe get enough to buy three cheap seats and enough gas to get there and back for the day and it ballooned into a really nice weekend. It was awesome.”
Daniel Lewis covers Tennessee athletics for Nooga.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanielNooga
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