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Sunday, January 16, 2022

One man headed a huddle of Gators, his every move covered by a cluster of cameras and protected by a pair of police officers at the UF practice fields Monday evening.

Kenny Goodall might as well have been Tim Tebow. He was the center of attention.

Several Gators coaches and players, including Tebow and Urban Meyer, visited, signed autographs, smiled and laughed among Goodall's group of family and friends following practice.

Goodall, a 42-year old St. Augustine resident, was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease two years ago and may have as little as a month to live.

He can't walk and can barely talk, but you could still sense just how special the fantasy fan experience was.

"I think (Tebow) is a wonderful person, and he has a great testimony," said Goodall through the translation of his wife, Karen.

The practice visit was set up by Builders Care, a charitable branch of the Northeast Florida Builders Association, through Pam and Bob Tebow and Meyer. Builders Care is in the middle of a 10-day project to rebuild Goodall's house, adding 1,000 square feet, all by the work of volunteers.

"We want to give him a little peace in his heart because he's got to leave, and he's leaving a young wife and six children," said Chris Simons, who is directing the Builders Care efforts. "We want to give his family some hope for the future."

From the oldest all the way down to the youngest that can talk, 2-year-old Kolton, the Goodalls are Gators at heart.

Kenny, a former welder, built railings at The Swamp in addition to several other projects on campus.

Simons said Kolton's three favorite words are "Go Gators, awesome."

Kolton could have summed up his father's feelings pretty well, too.

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"When we told him yesterday that we were coming to the practice and that Coach and Tim and the players would come visit with him, he broke down in tears because it was such a special thing for him to be able to experience," Simons said.

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