Jeff Kemp, and his father, Tim, are going to watch Iowa take on LSU alongside Adrian Clayborn in his luxury suite
By Ben Ross
TAMPA, Fla. — Jeff Kemp wasn’t planning on spending New Year’s in Tampa.
The Iowa senior had intended on going to Chicago to celebrate the holiday with some friends from college. Then he saw a post on Twitter.
Former Iowa All-American defensive lineman and current Tampa Bay Buccaneer Adrian Clayborn was giving away two free tickets to sit in a suite with him and watch Iowa take on LSU in the stadium where Clayborn plays on Sunday’s.
Kemp, the Morale Chair for the University of Iowa’s chapter for Dance Marathon — a nationwide movement that raises money to provide both emotional and financial support for pediatric oncology patients at local children’s hospitals — Tweeted at Clayborn a thank you letter from the University of Iowa for the donation he made to Dance Marathon. Kemp’s employer had matched his donation of $650 dollars for the charity, raising a total of $1300 at that instant.
Kemp waited, and saw the dozens of others who had replied to Clayborn on Twitter that afternoon. He wanted to make sure the former Iowa player saw his act of charity.
“I had a bunch of my Dance Marathon people I work closely with blow it up a bit,” Kemp said. “Within two hours it had 60 favorites and 10 retweets. There was no way he could ignore it.”
About four hours later, eyes closed and scrolling on his Twitter feed, Clayborn made his selection.
“I was watching his twitter feed. He tweeted before he announced it that he picked the winner… I started freaking out at that point,” Kemp said.
Kemp had been selected at random by Clayborn.
“He called me screaming,” his father, Tim Kemp said. “I said, ‘you better not be BSing me on this.”
Clayborn messaged Kemp that he could get the tickets at will call on gameday. So he and his dad made arrangements to spend New Year’s in Tampa and watch the Hawkeyes.
“It was the holiday season. I knew I had extra tickets left so I figured, ‘why not give tickets away to Iowa fans?’” Clayborn told The Daily Iowan at the Buccaneers practice facility. “It’s not that often where your college team comes to your NFL town, so you want to do something for fans and always try to give back to kids. So I kind of put two and two together and had a little giveaway on twitter.”
Interactions between the two haven’t ended there, either.
“It’s funny, every time I’ve tweeted at him, he’s gotten back to me,” Kemp said. “It was real cool for me; if I spent all day trying to get some Dance Marathon donations on Twitter, he would Retweet it. It’s cool to have him recognize getting donations for the kids… It’s honestly incredible to see a former Iowa player turned pro give back in such a great way.”
Jeff’s father — a Tipton, Iowa, native and currently the Mayor of Hills, Iowa, is an Iowa graduate, but has never been to a Hawkeye bowl game.
“I wasn’t really planning on going,” Tim Kemp said. “I go to every home game, I thought; ‘maybe I should go to a bowl game.’ I had given up that I was going to go to this bowl game, or anyone ever. But it doesn’t get any cooler than that — sitting in a suite with Adrian Clayborn. It’s a nice reward for all the time and effort [Jeff] put into Dance Marathon. He did it as a freshman, and all of a sudden he found his calling. He’s worked very hard for them. He’s ran marathons for them. He never even did sports in high school.”
Kemp estimates he has raised at least $6000 in his four years of involvement with Dance Marathon. This year alone he has raised around $3000, but his ultimate goal is to reach $10,000 by the time of the big event — where those involved dance for 24 hours straight, no sitting allowed, in the Iowa Memorial Union — on Feb. 7.
And it does seem a little be too good to be true — Clayborn selecting a fellow Hawkeye who is deeply involved in charity that the Iowa football team is known to work with in past. But the defensive end still says it was a random selection.
“I closed my eyes and scrolled down my twitter page, but it went to a good guy,” he told The Daily Iowan. “Reading all the tweets about him and stuff like that, I’m glad I did pick him.”