The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday January 19th

UNC student helps send friend to Super Bowl

Arent’s father, an avid football fan, passed away in January. Arent said his dad was his best friend and the two bonded over football.

“He loved Charlotte, and he loved the Panthers — if we ever weren’t able to watch the game together, we called each other several times during and after,” Arent said. “Football had always been something that we bonded over, and he was overjoyed by the year (the Panthers) were having.”

“It was really amazing that the Panthers had this miracle season during his last days — I think winning the Super Bowl, or not, he still loved the team and spending time with me.”

Ben Craig, a UNC junior, has been close friends with Will Arent since the sixth grade and knew his friend was going through a difficult time.

“He just transferred from Wilmington to N.C. State. He is in 18 hours of engineering classes,” Craig said. “And now it’s only going to get harder for him.”

“And what is something we could do to lift him up than anything else? Send him to the Super Bowl.”

Craig began raising money on GoFundMe to send Arent to see the Panthers at the Super Bowl in California on Feb. 7. In one week, more than 125 people have donated more than $5,500, enough to pay for Arent’s ticket.

Arent said he greatly appreciated his friend’s gesture.

“Honestly, when Ben told me, I didn’t believe him. But deep down I knew he was serious because it wasn’t a time for messing around and playing jokes,” he said.

“It was an overwhelming feeling of love, and it really took my breath away.”

Arent’s uncle, Mike Graves, said he couldn’t be happier for his nephew.

“You couldn’t take a better fan,” Graves said. “He’ll be screaming and yelling all the way.”

Because enough money was raised to pay for a ticket, Arent will be going to the Super Bowl to watch the team he and his father followed for so long.

Many people wrote notes with their GoFundMe contributions, offering condolences or supporting the Panthers with messages like “Keep Pounding.”

“If the Panthers won the Super Bowl, it would just be an unbelievable event — something just so crazy, especially since we’ve had so many up and down years. It would mean validation for our team and our city. It would be a sense of pride for true Panthers fans everywhere,” he said.

“The only sad part about it, and this really breaks my heart, is that my dad isn’t able to go on this trip with me.”


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