ATHENS — The Josh Eargle family of Austin Peay wanted to say thanks to Bulldog Nation for what they did in support of their daughter, Landrey, and did so in a video that was shown at halftime of Saturday’s game. What they didn’t know was they were going to feel some more love from Georgia while they were in town.
When the family was introduced on the field following the video presentation, they were surprised with a check for $5,000 from the Kirby Smart Family Foundation. Smart’s wife Mary Beth personally delivered it on the field.
The Bulldogs’ coach was asked about it after the game.
“My wife reached out to me when that story ran in DawgNation,” Smart said after the Bulldogs’ 45-0 win over Austin Peay. “Their offensive line coach came over to me and was really emotional and very appreciative of, not just our family foundation, but UGA period. Coach Healy before the game made mention that it meant so much to their spirits, to the family, that they wouldn’t be where they are without the support of UGA.
“It’s indicative of our university and our people to see what’s been done for Devon Gale and the Austin Peay O-Line coach, it’s a special deal.”
At this point, the Eargles’ story is well-known. Their struggle to find a cure for for their 5-year-old daughter Landrey, who has a rare genetic condition, had taken a financial toll. But after a GoFundMe campaign was brought to the attention of Georgia fans through social media and traditional reporting, the initiative went to a new level. Once hovering around $20,000, the #ForTheLoveOfLandrey campaign as of Saturday had reached more than $124,000. And that was before the Smart’s gift.
“We’re just grateful and so thankful. It’s just so hard to put into words,” said Kristen Eargle, Landrey’s mother and a sideline reporter for Austin Peay. Her husband, Josh, is the Governors’ offensive line coach. “You’ve changed our lives, Dawg Nation has. You’ve moved a mountain for us.”
As for the Smart’s gift, Kristen said, “Wow! Just wow.”
The Eargles had run up tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt while seeking medical answers for Landrey. There is no known cure for her illness at the moment.
Austin Peay coach Will Healy encouraged the family to go public with their story and the response from Georgia, SEC schools and other football programs where the Eargles have worked over the years has been overwhelming. Kristen said they can now pay off their credit cards, make changes to their house to help Landrey with her physical limitations and save a portion of the money they’ve received for her future care and needs.
“We can’t thank Dawg Nation enough,” Kristen Eargle said. “This has been unbelievable.”