New Florida State offensive lineman Dillan Gibbons, who spent his first four years of college football at Notre Dame, has found a way to bring the schools’ fanbases together two months before the teams meet on the field.
While many college athletes jumped on social media this week to make money from their new Name, Image and Likeness freedom, Gibbons took a different approach.
At 6:46 p.m. on July 1, the day Florida’s new NIL law went into effect, Gibbons posted on Twitter that he was hoping to raise funds to bring his friend Timothy Donovan to the FSU-Notre Dame game on Sept. 5. The lineman called Donovan, “the most courageous guy I’ve ever known.”
In his longer post on the GoFundMe page he set up, Gibbons explained that he first met Donovan when he was leaving the stadium following his first game at Notre Dame.
“He was one of many fans hoping to get an autograph from a player and I was one of the first guys out of the locker room,” Gibbons, who is a native of Clearwater, Fla., explained. “I saw him in the crowd and was drawn to him. I met Timothy and his family and signed my gloves for him. Since that time, I have looked forward to seeing Timothy after the games and he was there quite often at first. Unfortunately, his physical struggles intensified as his medical conditions worsened and he was not able to make it to many games in the past two years.
“Timothy was born with a condition called VACTERL and was not expected to survive. He was later diagnosed with Charcot Marie Tooth — an incurable disease that effects the nerves in his hands and feet. His father, Tim, a decorated military veteran, and his mother Paula, fought against all odds to help him live an adventurous, exciting life filled with experiences that most kids would dream of having. Timothy persevered through over 50 surgeries in his lifetime and has always come through it with a smile on his face.”
Gibbons went on to explain that there is much more to the story. He and Donovan would learn over time that they share a special connection to Notre Dame, and the two families have gone on to become close friends.
Unfortunately, Donovan was unable to attend Irish games last season because of his physical condition and concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. So he also missed out on seeing Gibbons’ first start in 2020 against Syracuse.
“It was an amazing day for me, but would have been so much more special if Timothy could have been there,” the lineman wrote.
Thanks to a unique set of circumstances, Gibbons saw an opportunity to make up for that missed opportunity.
Gibbons transferred this summer to Florida State, where he is expected to compete for a starting job on the offensive line this fall, and the Seminoles open up their 2021 season against his former school.
With Donovan now “thriving” after undergoing a spinal surgery that improved his health dramatically, Gibbons asked fans to help fund a trip for the recent high school graduate to the FSU-Notre Dame game on Sept. 5.
“When he learned that I was transferring to Florida State University to earn my MBA an play my 5th and 6th years of college football, Timothy reached out to me to let me know that he was proud of me and that he would always be a Dillan Gibbons fan and that he is now a proud fan of Notre Dame AND Florida State,” Gibbons explained. “It would mean so much to both of us if he could be there to watch me play my first game as a Nole when I suit up against the Irish. Due to the recent NCAA rule changes and the State of Florida’s statutory support for college athletes, I’ve decided to use my name, image and likeness to try to raise money to help bring Timothy and his parents to Doak Campbell for the first game of the season.
“I’ve started this gofundme page in hopes that others who share a love for college football will help me take Timothy to Tally to be there for the FSU v. Notre Dame on Sunday, September 5th, 2021 at 7:30 p.m. … Your donations will be used for game tickets, transportation costs, lodging, and meals for Timothy and his parents. Any excess funds raised with go directly to Timothy’s family to help them recover from the financial burden of his recent spinal surgery and continued care. Please help if you can.”
Less than 24 hours later, the donations soared past the goal of $30,000, and the Donovan’ trip to Tallahassee was paid for.
“Timothy to Tally” was a success.
If that wasn’t enough, Gibbons then shared this message from his friend Timothy Donovan: