MADEIRA BEACH, FL - Dillan Gibbons has been in the spotlight for much of his football life. The offensive lineman signed with Notre Dame out of Clearwater Central Catholic in 2017.
“Notre Dame’s kind of changed me as just being a kid sitting (on TV for my commitment) into being a grown man who can control his thoughts and emotions,” said Gibbons. “My experience on the football field has instilled in me a lot of values that I’m going to bring in to the rest of my life.”
Dillan appeared in almost every game for the Irish between 2019 and 2020. This past December Dillan was inserted into the starting offensive line against Syracuse.
It was a proud moment. Not just for Dillan and his family, but also for someone else: his friend Timothy Donovan.
“I met him back in the day at my first Notre Dame game in 2017,” Gibbons said. “I went over to him and I sat down next to him and talked for about 30 minutes.”
Dillan learned that Timothy was born with VACTERL – A syndrome that can cause spine and limb defects. But Dillan didn’t fixate on those issues. He just focused on his new friend.
“I started to build a connection with him,” said Gibbons. “It was more than just football. He was seeking somebody to be in his life that was for him.”
Dillan recently transferred from Notre Dame to Florida State. And who will the Noles play at home in their first game of the season? The Irish. So it only made sense that Dillan find a way for Timothy to come to Tallahassee.
“When you meet someone special like that, someone you actually connect with, you want to do as much as you can for him,” said Gibbons.
The new Name Image and Likeness laws, or NIL, took effect July 1st. They allow college athletes to profit off their performance and personal brand. Dillan figured the person who should benefit from his name should be Timothy. So he started a GoFundMe to get “Timmy to Tally”.
“I was expecting maybe a couple thousand dollars to help support the Donovan Family with their travel expenses, lodging, food, all that stuff for the game,” said Gibons of the idea. “It kind of blew up.”
Blew up might be an understatement. Word got around social media. Within 24 hours Dillan’s goal of $30,000 had been achieved. The story was so touching, GoFundMe reached out to Dillan.
“I’ve talked to the CMO of GoFundMe, I have talked to their staff,” said Gibbons, who also received a $15,000 donation from Super Coffee, a online coffee designed to promoting health and positivity. “They reached out and wanted to support me and Timothy. We went ahead and set the goal to $75,000.”
With Timothy’s trip to Tallahassee secured, thanks to local businesses in Tallahassee paying for food, lodging, game day apparel and more, the money raised will now go directly to help the Donovans with medical bills. Timothy was so touched, he recorded a message for everyone involved in the fundraiser.
“I would like to thank everyone who has donated,” said Donovan. “I really appreciate all of the love and support.”
This is where most would say they’ve done enough for a friend, but not Dillan. He decided to set another lofty goal.
“I’d like to have him out at the coin toss,” said Gibbons. “Everything that he has been through in his life, all the challenges and the struggles that he has been through have been worth it. I want to show him that. And I’m calling on anyone at FSU or Notre Dame to help make this happen.”
Most college athletes saw NIL laws as a chance to strike it rich off their own brand and name. Dillan Gibbons saw the opportunity to help his buddy, Timothy Donovan, feel like he does every Saturday in the fall.
“My goal with this whole campaign was to give him his day in the sun,” said a determined Gibbons. “I’m just trying to provide that for him and I’m going to take this thing as far as I possibly can.”
You can donate to “Take Timothy to Tally” here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/taketimothytotally