Reece Foy ’18, far right, front row at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Suite Like Sugar

As I stood in the Owner’s Box Suite at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in absolute amazement, the magnitude of the moment began to set in. In less than an hour, I would be on a nationally televised broadcast of ESPN where more than 20 million people would see the name “Amherst” written across my chest and, for a few seconds, catch a glimpse of this boy from Hawai`i emphatically throwing up a shaka as my smile jumped off my face. Within minutes of the broadcast going live, my phone blew up with notifications racing in from Amherst teammates, family members and friends. One would assume that this moment would be the epitome of a life “highlight” for a college student.

However, if I am honest, being presented as a member of the 2017 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team during the halftime of the Sugar Bowl was a tremendous honor, but far from the weekend highlight. Twenty-two college football players across all divisions are recognized on this team, an award that “shines a spotlight on the incredible stories of selflessness and community service displayed by these student-athletes, and their dedication to volunteerism and enriching the lives of others.” Indeed, it was my fellow awardees who stole the honor of “highlight” for me this past weekend.

Allstate generously hosts a weekend full of events for the players who won this award, and as soon as I arrived in New Orleans, I was reminded of the importance of investing in others. Many of these men had, like myself, gone on mission trips. Some had started nonprofits to help orphaned children, created youth football leagues, begun initiatives for children with disabilities, and so much more. In talking to many of my new friends, it became clear that this was the first time any of us had been honored for our works. And, quite frankly, the level of recognition we received that weekend actually made most of us uncomfortable. For us, it was never about our own work, only about others. For me—and for several others I met there—my Christian faith is the driving force in my efforts to help others.

Reece Foy ’18, second from right, front row

We were blessed with many experiences that weekend, beginning with refurbishing the APEX Youth Center in New Orleans. Tim Tebow and Imagine Dragons joined us for this community event, and we would continue to interact with them over the course of the weekend. Hurling Sugar Bowl-themed Mardi Gras beads at college football fanatics was probably the most fun I had all weekend, as the team rode atop a float and showered thousands of fans with beads from above. It was my first New Year’s away from my family, but luckily Allstate allowed one guest to join each of us for the weekend. My brother and I rang in the New Year screaming the words to the Imagine Dragons song “Thunder.” There was also an awards banquet for us prior to the game, a Bible study with the guys on the team, and, as a grand finale, we came onto the field at halftime. However, it was not the recognition at halftime that was grand, but rather the people I met through this experience.

As we exited the suite and proceeded to head back to our hotel and gather our belongings to depart New Orleans, I could not help but smile and thank God for all that had happened. This whole experience was sweeter than sugar.

At Amherst, Foy—a political science major—started Val Appreciation Day to recognize dining hall employees, ran a food drive for the Amherst Survival Center, organized snow shoveling for local senior citizens and much more. He has also done community service in New Orleans and in Las Malvinas, Dominican Republic. He is writing an honors thesis on the Darfur genocide and hopes to one day live in Darfur.