Search Shop
Special Impact

Special Impact

By D.J. Gordon // Assistant Director of Equipment for Football

Ninety-nine percent of you reading this don’t know who I am, and there’s a perfectly good reason for that. My name is D.J. Gordon and I am the assistant director of equipment for football at Clemson. I also dabble in our program’s social media efforts.

Generally, people in my profession are never seen or heard from unless something goes terribly wrong on gameday. Fortunately, our staff has kept pretty quiet over the years, so we must be doing something right.

However, here I am to tell you one thing about me that is as true as our colors are Tiger Orange and Regalia…I love David Saville, and you should, too.

I am 28-years-old, and when I grow up, I want to be just like David. I know what you’re thinking…“Buddy, you’re almost 30 and if you’re not grown up yet, something is wrong.”

Hear me out.

I don’t care if I am 28, 30, 50 or 116 years old. With each passing trip around the sun, I only hope that I can grow to be as caring, appreciative, loving and as good of a man as David is today.

David, a 24-year-old in the ClemsonLIFE (Learning Is For Everyone) program and one of our 17 football student equipment managers, has Down syndrome. While there are plenty of disabilities in this world, one thing is abundantly clear…David is far from disabled.

To help you understand why I feel the way I do about my friend and co-worker, I offer you an anecdote about an interaction I had with David this past spring. My father, Doug Gordon, who always said that Clemson will forever be his “home,” was an equipment manager at Clemson during the Danny Ford and Ken Hatfield years.

Unfortunately, he passed away this year a few days after the annual Spring Game. After making every attempt to remain strong and stoic in front of my family, all it took was one text message from my friend, David, to break me down.

“Hey D.J., I am so sorry for your loss. I love you. ClemsonLIFE will pray for your dad. I love you all the world, man. Go Tigers.”

Simply put, David is love and kindness in its purest form. Sure, we all see David dancing in the locker room after big wins. We all see him filling up Gatorade cups every home game. But what many of you don’t see is the way David has impacted every single one of us in the equipment room.

In all honesty, I think we all questioned what it would be like to have a person with Down syndrome in our office on a daily basis. However, four years after meeting David and his parents for the first time, I can say that outside of my own family, I have not met a more influential person in my lifetime.

David has taught us that no matter how tough life gets, there is always a reason to smile. If we’re ever having a bad day, we all know that when David gets out of school or gets done with his shift bagging groceries at a local store, there is a big hug coming our way.

In a world where people make every attempt to get ahead in life, David shows us that he has already made it. Bad days are things that simply don’t exist for David, thus allowing him to reach the place we all hope to find…happiness.

Whether it is hugs, high-fives, laughing with each other over the most trivial of things in life or even styling David’s hair for our group picture, we’ve grown to be more like brothers than co-workers.

If you can take anything away from what I am trying to tell you about my friend, my brother, just remember to be happy. No matter where you are in life, or whom you are with, just remember to smile. Be with the ones you are with and appreciate everything that this world has to offer. Hug the ones you love and laugh with anyone who crosses your path. Help brighten someone’s day.

I know David does.