By LARRY VAUGHT
Let me update you with a happy ending to a story I wrote last week about sisters Kambri and Aubry Bivins, ages 12 and 10, of Gallatin, Tenn., wanting to find a way to honor their father — Eric Bivins — at a Kentucky basketball game.
They lost him earlier this summer as a result of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) from his military service in the Army.
Bivins was a Kentucky basketball fan who grew up in Greenville, Ky., and went to school at one time with former UK basketball player Patrick Sparks. He had over 200 UK hats at the time of his passing and most were given out to those who attended his funeral.
Their mother, Kami, had reached out to several UK officials with the request they made in a video they created.
Nathan Schwake, associate athletics director for marketing and promotions, reached out to the family Thursday with this email:
“Thank you for reaching out to us and for sending the video. I apologize we didn’t get to you sooner. First and foremost, we want to offer our condolences for your family’s loss. We truly cannot understand the pain your family has been through and hope you know that you and your family are in our thoughts.
“We thank you for your family’s service. After watching the video of your two daughters, it’s apparent that not only was he a hero, he raised two great girls who will carry his spirt forward.
“If you could let us know some dates that would work for your family, it would be our honor to have you attend a game and watch a team that meant so much to your husband and your family.”
Guess which game they picked? The one Nov. 10th against Utah Valley and coach Mark Pope, a former Wildcat.
But guys what Nov. 11 is? Veteran’s Day. No way there could be a better weekend to remember a fallen veteran.
Kami Bivins waited until her daughters got home from school Thursday to share the news — and also let them unwrap a package they got with three UK flower pots that looked like UK basketballs.
Obviously, both girls were excited.
“They are doing it in his honor?” Aubry Bivins yelled on another video her mother made.
Kami Bivins had to tell her she wasn’t sure about that, but UK was “sending us to a game of our choice” and that was more than enough for her daughters.
Here is what she put in her email back to Schwake.
“Thank you for all your help and for listening to my girls. They really want to bring change and awareness to this disease, so no other military families have to go through this. But, most of all, they want the American people to remember our military as heroes because unfortunately most of them don't feel like heroes,” Kami Bivins wrote. “I am so thankful they have such great heads on their shoulders and know they have a purpose.”
The reaction video Kami Bivins posted on Facebook drew a slew of immediate responses — including one from me admitting I cried watching the girls’ reaction.
Some other comments were:
— Teri Encinias: “How awesome. Nana is very proud of you. Your daddy voice is being heard heard thru you guys and your momma. You are going to bring awareness to Military PTSD.”
— Tina Allen Beatty: “Ok this had me crying. So proud of your girls. God bless you all and prayers still going up for you all.”
— Angela Kelly: “Eric would be so excited and proud.”
I didn’t know Eric, but I know how fathers do think. Count me as one who is sure he’s more than proud of his two daughters — and wife also.
Kami Bivins email signature is this, “A living and supporting mom & Surviving widow from PTSD.”
That’s powerful and so is what UK is going to do. I’m hoping they will recognize the family at the game. I know my buddy Maria Montgomery would be great on the Rupp Arena court with them and there’s no way UK fans would not love this story — or seeing the videos.
Same with coach John Calipari. No way the father in him will not be touched — even on game night — by this.
For what they have suffered, it will be terrific to see these two sisters have a night to remember and one their father will somehow find a way to enjoy, too, I believe.
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