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Tiger Rag on Christmas tree in President and First Lady's home

B – happy and healthy in the holidays!

December 17, 2020

Holiday greetings, fellow Tigers!

As this year comes to an end, I reflect on the challenges and hardships we faced as a world, country and University. But we have come together in extraordinary ways, and I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of the Clemson Family. Thank you for your constant support and commitment through these unprecedented times. I am forever grateful for each of you!

Our students have excelled during unprecedented times, and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to safely celebrate our December graduates and this amazing milestone for them throughout the next two days. Clemson will honor them during commencement ceremonies at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville. Congratulations to our newest alumni. We know they are going to make a lasting and incredible mark on the world.

Clemson graduation Decemeber 2020

One of ClemsonLIFE’s graduates was recently featured in a story that has gone viral. Jake Pratt has marked a new life accomplishment, working as a package runner for UPS. When diagnosed with Down syndrome, Jake’s parents were told he would never live a normal life. But they were determined to prove them wrong – setting in place the foundation for Jake’s determination throughout life. From playing football in high school to getting his driver’s license to attending college, Jake has always broken down barriers with the support of his family.

ClemsonLIFE (Learning Is For Everyone) is a post-secondary education program with the specific purpose of helping young adults with intellectual disabilities obtain the life skills necessary to gain employment and live independently. Intellectual disabilities should not be a barrier for living life to its fullest — or to having the benefit of a college experience. And Jake is one of many ClemsonLIFE graduates who are wonderful examples of this – who are inspiring others with intellectual disabilities to pursue their dreams. On Jake’s Twitter page, he says, “I have an extra chromosome, but we are more alike than different.” What a wonderful inspiration Jake serves to the Clemson Family and the world.

Jake Pratt, a ClemsonLIFE graduate, has marked a new life accomplishment, working as a package runner for UPS.

Clemson’s victories can be seen in the classroom, in the labs and on the athletic fields. But sometimes you have to look even deeper to see the true essence of the Clemson Family. Disney’s new film, Safety, is giving the world a glimpse into the special bond among Clemson Tigers. Safety is based on the true story of Ray “Ray Ray” McElrathbey, who played for the Tigers from 2005 to ’07, and his little brother, Fahmarr, aka “Fay.” Ray Ray took Fahmarr to Clemson from their hometown of Atlanta, successfully petitioning the courts to become his younger brother’s legal guardian. Every morning, Ray Ray woke Fahmarr and sent him off to middle school, then he went to class and football practice. He would return home in the evening with food for Fahmarr that he snuck out of the cafeteria. After helping his brother with his homework, Ray Ray put him to bed and then finished his own homework. And Ray Ray was doing all of this while was only 19 years old. Clemson compliance officers began fighting for an NCAA waiver that would allow the school to help Ray Ray look after his brother. Once the waiver was granted, Fahmarr became an active and unofficial member of the Clemson football facility. But it wasn’t only financial support that the Clemson Family provided. The coaches’ wives set up a carpool schedule to pick him up from school each day and take him to practice, where he did homework in film rooms and attended practice every day.

Ray Ray now splits time between Atlanta, South Carolina and Los Angeles, where he has worked as personal trainer and even a bodyguard to the stars. His mother, Tonya, is drug-free, and the entire family plans to work together as part of the Ray Ray Safety Net Foundation, which was created to help families who are struggling to stay together because of substance abuse. Safety is an amazing testament to the Clemson Family and the special bond that brings us together in extraordinary ways.

Ray "Ray Ray" McElrathbey, who played for the Tigers from 2005 to '07, and his little brother, Fahmarr, aka "Fay."

 B – happy and healthy in the holidays!  

There is still time to grab several goodies to share with the special Tigers in your life. When you make your annual gift, you can purchase several of our limited-edition Clemson gifts, such as our Couch Season T-shirt.

CouchSeason 2020 T-shirt

We will also send you a free Clemson Through the Years 2021 calendar when you make your annual gift. You can purchase additional copies to share with friends and family so that you can celebrate our University year-round.

The B-Note will be taking a break during the holidays, but I am wishing you and your families the happiest of holidays and a wonderful New Year! CU in 2020!

Blessings and Go Tigers! Beat Notre Dame!

Brian O’Rourke