When the Marion University Knights compete in Friday’s NAIA Football Championship in Daytona, Fla., they will have a special 11-year-old fan in the stands.
The young fan, diagnosed with cancer five years ago, couldn’t travel by commercial flight due to his immune system. When Irsay learned of his plight, he volunteered his private jet to fly Winnefeld and family to Florida.
Irsay is known for such acts of kindness and generosity with fans, many of the gestures never publicized.
Winnefeld became a Knights fan two months ago. The team quickly took to him as he attended games and interacted with players. Knights coach Mark Menninger granted him a football scholarship in a letter. And the coach has reminded players of the boy’s example, to never give up or get discouraged, regardless of the challenge.
While Irsay didn’t comment on his deed, various Indianapolis media outlets reported Winnefeld’s story.
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.