Homecoming tradition: UAB football players to wear names of Children’s Harbor kids on back of their jersey

UAB Football
L to R – Devodric Bynum, Cat Outzen, D’Ariya Larry, Coach Bryant Vincent and Kelle Sanders. (Pat Byington/Bham Now)

This coming Saturday, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) will continue one of the best traditions in college football when the Blazers play the 6th annual Children’s Harbor Homecoming game against Middle Tennessee at Protective Stadium with the names of Children’s Harbor patients on their backs.

In 2016,  UAB Head Coach Bill Clark and the team adopted Children’s Harbor as their community charity. Each season since then, UAB football players have worn their popular alternate green and lime homecoming jerseys with the name of a Children’s Harbor child, stitched on the back.

UAB2017ALTWk6 Homecoming tradition: UAB football players to wear names of Children’s Harbor kids on back of their jersey

This year there are 92 patients being honored.

Bigger Than This Team

UAB Football
UAB cornerback Devodric Bynum speaks to the press. (Pat Byington/Bham Now)

“We honor them. We play in memory of them,” Head Coach Bryant Vincent said at his Monday morning press conference. “It’s a game and tradition we take very seriously here that we are very proud of — it’s what this program is about. It’s about things bigger than this team and this program.”

Over 500 Children’s Harbor children and their families have been remembered and honored since the beginning of the tradition. 

“We are so excited and so blessed to enter the sixth year of this partnership with UAB football,” said Cat Outzen, CEO at Children’s Harbor. “At Children’s Harbor our mission is to strengthen the families of seriously ill children with respite, refuge and resources. This game means so much to the children and the families that we serve. They look forward to it every year. This is something that will stay with these families, these children and these players for a lifetime.” 

Also on hand at the press conference were UAB senior Devodric Bynum and Kelle Sanders. They were joined by Children’s Harbor patient D’Ariya Larry.

As a father whose daughter faced medical complications early in her life, Bynum talked about how this game touches him every year.

“I feel like this game is really the most important game because the names who we play for on the back of our jerseys mean a lot to us. Some of us have kids, I have kids. My daughter was born four months early, so she had complications as well. It touched me probably more than anyone.” 

UAB Football
UAB linebacker Kelle Sanders addresses press conference. (Pat Byington/Bham Now)

Sanders added, “Any time you can play for anything that’s bigger than you, it’s special. Playing for something like this is truly special because knowing that you can be someone’s limelight for three and a half hours. It’s just, being there for somebody, for the game, it’s special.”

Mark Your Calendar

UAB’s homecoming game against Middle Tennessee kicks off on Saturday, October 8th, 2:30PM at Protective Stadium. Before the game, enjoy Blazer Village, a family-friendly pregame fan fest, which offers music, games and face painting. 

Be a part of UAB’s special homecoming tradition with Children’s Harbor. 

Interested in spending Homecoming week with the Blazers? Here is the week-long lineup of Homecoming activities.

Pat Byington
Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.

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