FAYETTEVILLE (ArkansasRazorbacks.com) – The Arkansas football team completed the popular ALS Ice Bucket Challenge following Wednesday morning's practice, though the act took on a different meaning for the football family.
Junior offensive guard Adam Deacon walked onto the team in 2011, and has been a scout team contributor for the past three seasons. His brother, Tyler, also walked on at Arkansas, eventually earning a scholarship and starting 11 games on the Razorbacks' offensive line in 2012. Their mother, Leanne, was diagnosed with ALS in the summer of 2009. The disease, which does not have a cure, took her life in March 2013.
During a team meeting on Tuesday night, head coach Bret Bielema asked Deacon to speak to the team about ALS and how debilitating the disease can be to its victims and their families.
“It was pretty cool. A lot of kids know of ALS, but they don't know a lot about it. Adam was able to get up and talk specifically about what his family went through and what his mother went through. I think the details of that have really inspired them,” Bielema said.
When Deacon finished his speech, Coach Bielema told the team that he was placing the junior on scholarship. The meeting room erupted in support of a surprised Deacon.
“I honestly didn't see it coming because I've been working my butt off out there and I had a meeting with coach and he told me how well I'm doing. But he didn't say anything about a scholarship. Then at the team meeting he brought it up and it honestly brought tears to my eyes. I was so happy. I told my dad and he was sitting there screaming for like a minute straight on the phone. It means the world to all of us,” Deacon said.
The entire football program collectively decided to not only take part in the challenge, but also donate money to the cause. Each student-athlete will donate to the ALS Association and Coach Bielema will match the donations from his team and coaching staff.
Additionally, Coach Bielema and his team have challenged Arkansas Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Jeff Long, the SEC Network's Joe Tessitore and Paul Finebaum, along with college football teams across the nation to complete the challenge and donate to the ALS Association.
The Razorbacks will open the 2014-15 season on the road at Auburn on August 30 at 3 p.m., and will be broadcasted on the SEC Network.