Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Note to My Sons: Rush to Help

The first call I got from our 18 year old college freshman on Saturday made her dad and me smile and shake our heads at the folly of the young.

At 3:30 p.m., she called to tell us she and a couple of her University of Arkansas friends were already in line for the 7:00 p.m. "Battle of the Boot" game between the Razorbacks and the Tigers of LSU. She was pumped because, the way it looked then, they had a really good chance of being on the front row of the student section.

Since I knew the thermometer was hovering around freezing in Fayetteville, I did my mom thing and asked if she was dressed warm enough. She sent me the following picture as proof she was. 

She ended by reminding us to watch for her when the ESPN cameras scanned the student section. She'd have a good chance for a couple of seconds of fame since she was on the front row

About an hour and a half later, she sent another picture showing that, yes indeedy, she was on the coveted front row of the student section!

That's a sturdy looking railing there...
Kelsey and our Elizabeth

This was a big game. The Razorbacks were looking to break a 17 game SEC loosing streak with a win over LSU. The crowd was excited and hopeful.  I texted our 21 year old David, who is a junior there, and asked if he was at the game. Here's our exchange.

As you can see, he wasn't on the front row. He was a long way from his sister. 

My Lou and I settled in to watch the game from a comfortable couch in front of a warm fire in our family room. We rooted for the Hogs and replayed on slow motion any scanning of the student section hoping to get a glimpse of our front row girl. That never happened, but our excitement grew as the clock ticked and it looked like the losing streak was going to be broken. In the final minute of the game, when we knew it was in the bag, it suddenly occurred to me that the U of A student section was probably going to storm the field. 

And one of my babies was in the front row

Now if you've ever watched a student section storm the field on T.V., you know how fast and furious that is. I've always watched with interest and a little fascination at that whole phenomenon. I've also felt for those in authority at those events and can only imagine their frustration at a crowd out of control. But I've never seriously considered the danger to life and limb that happens at that moment - until the last minute of the game I watched on Saturday.

As we sat there, I don't remember my exact words, but I prayed out loud something to the effect of: "Oh Lord, please keep our Elizabeth from getting hurt."

The game ended and the storm began. It looked innocent enough. Lots of fans running and jumping up and down and cheering. Lots of smiling faces. We watched a little while longer, but were soon busy with other things. I honestly didn't give the storming of the field much more thought.

Then, about an hour later, Elizabeth called again.

"I almost died tonight."

Not really, but kind of.

Then she relayed the excitement of the final seconds of the game that was soon followed by fear and near panic as the game ended. She said it was surreal. As the seconds ticked down, there was a forceful and completely unavoidable surge on her and over her. It was so strong that the metal fence between her and the field leaned forward and gave way as the storming student section leaned and pushed and ran onto the field. She sent me this Vine (posted by Johnny Lombardi) of the madness:

It's a miracle someone wasn't seriously hurt.

Here's what was left of those sturdy metal barriers.

She said she was on the ground screaming and people stepped on her as the "storm" rushed the field. And then  - a Knight in shining armor - or more accurately, in Razorback Red  - stopped, yelled for people to stop and did his best to shield her from the crowd. He grabbed Elizabeth under her arms and helped my girl to her feet.

I wish I knew who he was.

Elizabeth says she didn't know who he was and after he helped her up and down onto the field, he was gone. He went back toward the collapsed rail to help others. I'm so very grateful for a guy who will stop to help when someone is in need.

I know our David, had he been anywhere close to that front row, would also have been on the scene to help. No one can foresee how such an event plays out. He was as helpless as I was. By the time he was at the railing, all were up and on the field. Hindsight is always 20/20.

But now we know.

I know I will forever be grateful to that young man who stopped to help my daughter. Lots of other "men" rushed on by, ignoring the cries of a girl being trampled. He didn't. I wish I could thank him. I wish I could call his parents to tell them how grateful I am for their son.

I know that I want my boys - my Luke and David - to do the same as this young man did whenever they witness someone in distress.

Stop, drop, and help.

Stop to help those in need.

When they were growing up, we first began this kind of discussion in relation to their sisters. We told them they were to do all in their power to care for, help, protect, and defend their sisters. We told them the story of the HMS Birkenhead where the call, as the ship was about to go down in shark infested waters and lifeboats were limited, was, "Women and children first to the lifeboats!"

That's what men do. They sacrifice for their women. We wanted our boys to hear this, know this, and do this.

I expect them to. On Saturday, our unnamed knight was wearing Razorback red. I don't really care what color my boys wear. My prayer is that they are Knights who are always ready and willing to rescue.

Thankfully, neither Elizabeth or any of her friends were seriously injured. Thank you, God for this mercy. They did suffer (are suffering) from bruises courtesy of the metal fence that they were pushed against and went down with. Pretty. Darn. Scary.

If I think about it too much, I can feel myself getting stressed about what could have happened. That does no one any good, though, so I try to bounce those thoughts away as quick as they come.

The University of Arkansas is thinking about this whole ordeal, also. We read today about a whopping $25,000 fine handed down by the SEC for that little hazardous celebration. I hope other colleges take note of that and avoid the dangers as well as the dollars.

I know I've titled this post "A Note to My Sons." But it just occurred to me that there's someone else who might need to take note of this post.

She's a cute little college freshman who may need to think twice about where to sit and where not to sit at big rivalry football games. I'm thinking the front row is not such a good idea...


  1. If on Sunday one wants no leg bruises,
    consider wisely what seat one chooses.
    But if the front row
    seems most apropos,
    Then one better hope the home team loses.

    1. This. is. awesome. You are so clever. I sent it to the kids. They got a kick out of it!