By LARRY VAUGHT
Sisters Kambri and Aubry Bivins have had to wait almost two months after being invited by University of Kentucky officials to attend a UK basketball game after they made a Facebook video asking UK to do something in memory of their father.
Eric Bivins grew up a Kentucky fan in Greenville where he went to school with former UK basketball standout Patrick Sparks. He was in the Army and passed away early last summer as a result of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) from his military service.
Kambri, age 12, and Aubry, age 10, want others to remember their father for all the good he did — and UK associate athletics director for marketing and promotions Nathan Schwake called their father a “hero” when he invited them and their mother to Friday’s season-opening game against Utah Valley that is one day before Veteran’s Day.
The family lives in Gallatin, Tenn., and others have found ways to help with the trip.
Kami Bivins and her daughters will spend Thursday night in Harrodsburg as guests of Beaumont Inn and Old Owl Tavern. They’ll get to have dinner with Kentucky National Guard Enlisted Personnel Manager Jennifer Maggard, former Miss Kentucky Maria Montgomery and the Kentucky Taste Buds — Tamara Schneider and Leigh Roach.
On Friday, they’ll head to Lexington where they will be the guests of Big Blue Nation Cares and the Hyatt Regency. Lodging is being provided by the Hyatt and Big Blue Nation Cares — a group that helps provide tickets and other things for deserving UK fans — is proving extra tickets for family and friends who plan to attend the game.
“The really great thing is that most of those attending with us have a connection to the military, too,” Kami Bivins said.
“My girls want to bring change and awareness to this disease that took their father so no other military families have to go through this. They want the American people to remember our military as heroes because unfortunately most of them don't feel like heroes.”
There’s also a chance there might be another surprise or two in store for these special sisters who just have to wait a few more days to see how much others value their father’s service and what he did for our country.
Big Blue Nation Cares certainly was touched by their story and could not wait to help like they have with so many other UK fans when it comes to arranging for them to see Kentucky basketball games.
I've been lucky enough to do several stories with UK fans who have benefitted from Big Blue Nation Cares' generosity in recent years. The group wants no credit. They just want to help others.
“It's really amazing what Big Blue Nation Cares has done for us,” Kami Bivins said. “I wish there was some way to really tell them what they have done for my daughters means to me.
“Same with Kentucky for getting back to us. The girls made the video with their dad's story but had no idea that anybody at UK would even see it. Then to have Beaumont Inn offer to do what they are doing, it's just unreal. My girls have just been counting the days and can't wait to get to UK.”
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