This past summer on a staff trip to Hilton Head Island, S.C., Georgia Tech graduate assistants J.R. Dorman and Preston Pehrson went to a lunch to meet friends of their host, Tech grad and booster Drew Hearn.
Little did they realize they were going to end up giving sustaining encouragement to a young man sideswiped by disappointment and physical pain.
“Those two and Mr. Hearn, those guys are angels,” said David Stone, father of 19-year-old Daniel.
Two years ago, Daniel Stone was an offensive line prospect in New Rochelle, N.Y., who had drawn attention from Penn State, Boston College and Syracuse. Before the start of his season, though, he suffered three herniated discs in his back. His football career was over, and he has experienced almost non-stop pain since then that doctors are at a loss to explain, his father said. So intense is the discomfort that he stays awake days at a time.
Stone attended one year of college but has spent the last year with his family in Hilton Head, going to physical therapy and feeling despair over his future. In that time, the Stones met Hearn, a Yellow Jackets supporter who hosts Tech coaches and their families every summer in Hilton Head. Thinking they could help Daniel, Hearn asked Dorman and Pehrson to meet with him and David.
Over lunch, the elder Stone saw his son brighten as Dorman and Pehrson shared their experiences in coaching and encouraged him to pursue a career in sports beyond the playing field. Since then, Dorman and Pehrson have kept in touch with Daniel through text messages and letters.
“They don’t know him from Adam, yet they’ve taken to him and they’re boosting him up and giving him hope,” David Stone said.
Dorman saw it as a logical investment of his time and energy. Earlier this week, Dorman said he and Pehrson planned to meet with the Stones Friday to show them around the football offices and keep up the relationship.
The Stones are “good people, but not only that, anytime you can help somebody out, we both felt that was the right thing to do,” Dorman said.
One grateful father would agree.
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog