From day one, when NIL (Name, Image, and Likeness) deals became legal in the world of college athletics, Florida State Seminoles offensive lineman Dillan Gibbons knew exactly what he was going to do.
While hysterics erupted over the potential chaos that the infusion of money could inflict on college sports, Gibbons charted out a plan that would allow him to use his position to help those who needed a helping hand.
“The milestone that I’m most proud to have accomplished is having shared the story of eight individuals’ struggles,” he said in an email. “Timothy Donovan, Liana Joy, Britt Garcias, Latoya Franklin, Greedy Vance, Bode Hulk Wyatt, and Laura Fisher’s narratives were shared through the GoFundMe platform and their individual struggles were validated by the outpouring of financial support and kind words from their respective football families.
“Though we have been established for less than one year, BMBH has made an impact throughout the State of Florida and beyond. There is no greater joy than the feeling of helping others in their time of need.”
Over $300,000 dollars raised and multiple campaigns across multiple sports (and schools) later, the redshirt senior has teamed up with his original inspiration for the project — Timothy Donovan, a life-long friend made when Gibbons played for Notre Dame.
In his first year in Tallahassee, Gibbons helped raise money and organize a trip for Timothy, who is confined to a wheelchair having dealt with medical issues his entire life, to watch the Seminoles take on Notre Dame.
“I feel incredibly blessed that I’ve been able to use my NIL for good and to build up Big Man Big Heart into what it is today,” Gibbons said. “I never dreamed that I’d be able to touch the lives of so many people but Big Man Big Heart has been the perfect vehicle to enable me to do so. By enlisting the support of Campus Ambassadors from other colleges - and some here at FSU - we’ve helped so many people get through some of the toughest times you could imagine. We’ve also helped local underprivileged youth with our community outreach events.
That weekend saw Timothy treated like recruiting royalty — dinner at Tally staples, a swag pack from Garnet & Gold, VIP treatment at the game, and, most important of all, a check made out to the Donovan family to help cover medical expenses.
“I never expected the response people had and all the support everyone gave us. I knew at some point I would love to do something to pay it forward,” wrote Timothy on the GoFundMe page for the campaign.
And now — that chance to do something is here.
Announced on August 15, Gibbons has teamed up with Timothy once more, this time helping put his friend in a position to pay it forward to those who are struggling with self-care and self-love.
As the Seminoles hit the road for games vs. LSU, Louisville, NC State and Syracuse, Timothy will tag along, making visits at children’s hospitals in those cities to share actor Matthew Gray Gubler’s “Rumple Buttercup,” a book that helped him overcome his anxiety and gain confidence to love himself.
In addition to the road game donation runs, Timothy also has set his sights on bringing “Rumple Buttercup” to Wolfson’s Children’s (which serves the Tallahassee-Jacksonville communities), Cincinnati and Dayton Children’s (where he receives his medical care), and South Bend’s Beacon Children’s Hospital when he travels to watch Notre Dame play Marshall.
From Timothy on GoFundMe:
“As some of you can imagine, my life hasn’t always been easy. I’ve gone through over 50 surgeries. I’ve dealt with depression and anxiety since I was around 9 years old. I’ve had to deal with all of my medical setbacks as well as not being accepted by others on top of that. People don’t often see past my wheelchair or my trach and they don’t give me a chance to get to know me. This has caused me to not really know how to interact with others because I’m always worried of what they think of me.
In 2019, Matthew Gray Gubler wrote a book called “Rumple Buttercup.” This story is about a character who doesn’t necessarily look like “normal kids”, and he’s afraid of what people around him think of him. This book really resonated with me because I know what that feels like. This book helped me see that it’s totally ok to be different and to love myself for who I am.
As an ambassador for Big Man Big Heart, I’m hoping to help spread this message of love and acceptance by donating “Rumple Buttercup” books to Children’s Hospitals where we will be traveling to for the football games. I would also like to donate some books to Dayton Children’s & Cincinnati Children’s where I go for my medical care. Cincinnati Children’s has a special place in my heart.
“This idea is a combination of thoughts that both Timothy and I had rolling around for fundraisers,” Gibbons explained. “I wanted to do something to give to the communities where the Noles play away games this year as a symbol of the level of class and good sportsmanship that embodies being a Florida State Seminole. Timothy has always wanted to do a fundraiser to give this special book that touched his life to kids in Children’s Hospitals around the country. He’s been where they are and he knows this story will help lift their spirits and make them appreciate themselves.”
And for those wondering if Timothy will be making his way to Tallahassee once more, rest assured he’ll be in the capital this fall for two separate Seminoles matchups — vs. Boston College and vs. the Florida Gators, with the game against the Eagles also doubling up as a 20th birthday celebration for Timothy. (Gibbons says that there are plans for a tailgate party ahead of the game, adding that they’d love for everybody who’d like to meet Timothy to stop on by.)
“I really hope you will consider helping me with a donation so I can purchase these books to donate. I appreciate all of the love I’ve received from both FSU & ND fans,” wrote Timothy. “It’s truly an amazing feeling knowing people care for me even though they may not personally know me.”