Special to the Tribune
The Fan of the Week program in Cherokee County recognizes elementary school students who have persevered in the face of unusual challenges and are succeeding, organizers said.
The program’s theme is “perseverance, because that’s what a lot of these kids and families have to do,” said Coach Clint Shaw, the program founder.
Shaw can remember the moment in 2008 when he had a vision of a special child, one “needing something positive to happen in his life,” throwing the first pass at Cherokee County high school football games.
The program is funded and supported by a group of private sponsors who have a vested interest in what the program is about and are giving back to the community through the outreach.
The Fan of the Week is honored by a banner hung in the school cafeteria, recognizing his achievement. Festivities include the pre-game dinner where the fan meets the team and listens to the motivational speaker.
Before kickoff, the fan meets principals, athletic directors, game officials and often the mascot and gets a photo with the high school cheerleading squad.
Shaw said the cheerleader picture is the favorite, though.
“I have yet to figure out why,” he said.
The Fan of the Week is presented with a jersey and a box from Bojangles restaurant, one of the sponsors, filled with goodies.
Additionally, a team poster with the fan’s picture is presented, autographed by all the team players.
There have been 77 fans of the week to date.
This year’s fans will attend a banquet with a guest speaker at the Cherokee Conference Center at the end of the season where they will receive a trophy, medal and certificate.
The families are all able to attend at no charge thanks to the dozen program sponsors. The banquet signifies the continuum of the football experience.
Shaw spoke of a past fan who had a brain shunt. When he arrived at the field on game night, he asked his father if he could run the field, Shaw said.
The father, who never thought he’d see his son run a half mile, later told the coach his son “will never grow up and do this, but now he can.”