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BYU football: Cougars take time to honor inspiring 12-year-old boy on senior day

Published: Saturday, Nov. 16 2013 10:30 p.m. MST

Brigham Young's Spencer Hadley watches in street clothes during the Cougars game against Idaho State Bengals at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday, November 16, 2013. (Matt Gade, Deseret News) Brigham Young's Spencer Hadley watches in street clothes during the Cougars game against Idaho State Bengals at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday, November 16, 2013. (Matt Gade, Deseret News)

PROVO — Saturday’s 59-13 win over Idaho State was supposed to be all about honoring BYU's seniors in their final home game, but one senior was mindful of honoring someone else.

Meet Dawson Darnell, a 12-year old from Farmington, whose selfless act on his birthday caught the notice of BYU senior linebacker Spencer Hadley.

Dawson told his mother Jami he’d like to use all the money she usually spends on parties and gifts to instead buy stuffed animals and other means of comfort for patients at Primary Children’s Hospital. Dawson did this in honor of his friend Clara, who passed away on Dawson's birthday after battling cancer.

Hadley learned of Dawson’s gift while eating at Bam Bam’s BBQ from Cam Treu, the owner, and quickly asked coach Bronco Mendenhall if the team could do something to honor Dawson.

Brigham Young Cougars wide receiver Skyler Ridley (17) hauls in a touchdown reception while being defended by Idaho State Bengals defensive back Cameron Gupton (28) during a game at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday, November 16, 2013. (Matt Gade, Deseret News) Brigham Young Cougars wide receiver Skyler Ridley (17) hauls in a touchdown reception while being defended by Idaho State Bengals defensive back Cameron Gupton (28) during a game at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday, November 16, 2013. (Matt Gade, Deseret News)

“What Dawson did was awesome,” Hadley said. “It really touched me, and it touched Coach Mendenhall, so we decided to make him our honorary teammate for a day because that’s what it’s all about. Coach Mendenhall is big on service, and I think it’s our duty, as players, to recognize great kids in the community like Dawson.”

Dawson spent Saturday hanging out with players in the locker room, running out of the tunnel and generally receiving the type of inside view of BYU football most fans dream of.

“He had a blast and it was a blast for me and my teammates to include Dawson,” Hadley said. “I just hope he understands that he’s a great kid and a great example to all of us.”

Email: bgurney@desnews.com Twitter: @BrandonCGurney

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