Devon Gales and his family will take another trip to Georgia for the G-Day spring game on Saturday, now in hopes of seeing progression toward the goal of building a handicap-accessible home.
Georgia launched its “Build a Dawg House” campaign for the Gales family on Feb. 25 at halftime of a men’s basketball game against LSU. After significant success with the promotion, the Bulldogs will attempt to boost it once more on a bigger stage — at an event that drew 93,000 fans a year ago.
At the second media timeout this Saturday, Devon, his mother Tish, father Donny, sister Teah and brother Dalen will stand on the sidelines of Sanford Stadium and be recognized in front of a large crowd.
A video featuring many people who have been assisting Devon’s 17-month rehab, along with information on how to donate, will be shown. It will be the same video displayed when the Gales family was recognized at Stegeman Coliseum. A donation can be made to the fund by texting “Devon” to 706-204-1707. Upon texting, a link is then displayed on the mobile device, allowing donors to give $5, $10, $25, $50 or a custom amount.
Along with the Bulldogs, Tish said Miami and LSU will also show the video at their respective spring games on April 22 to provide additional help as both schools have ties to the Gales family. Miami head coach Mark Richt was at the helm for Georgia when Devon was injured, and LSU has remained in contact since July when Tigers’ head athletic trainer Jack Marucci approached the family.
The Bulldogs’ second effort to raise funds comes after $60,174 – a total updated as of Wednesday afternoon – was raised in the eight weeks after the campaign was launched. The donations peaked in the first 36 hours after the launch as donors topped the $20,000 mark. Since, the volume of support has gradually faded.
The listed total does not include a $10,000 donation by former Georgia tight end and NFL veteran Benjamin Watson, which was sent directly to a fund at Southern University.
“We are all so grateful for all of the Bulldog fans because they have kept their word to not forgetting about us and allowing us to be honorary members of the family,” Tish said. “We thank everyone for their continued prayer and support for building this accessible home for Devon.”
Georgia’s assistance — led by support staffer Bryant Gantt and director of sports medicine Ron Courson — comes after the Triumph Over Tragedy non-profit foundation promised the family an accessible home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
After 11 months, Triumph Over Tragedy helped raise a total of $47,000 toward the building of a home. But with the focal point of the fund-raising efforts being t-shirt sales — after discussions with larger donors had fallen apart — the efforts were suspended in early February.
The land for a home was purchased in Baton Rouge before the family and organization severed ties. Building will not begin until a total of $500,000 has been raised.
“We’re in the business of helping,” Gantt said in February. “A lot of people think that we just help our kids and the development of young men and women to succeed in life, but it’s really more than our kids out there. It’s important to help the Gales family get back on their feet.”
Devon continues to rehab from a fractured C6 vertebrae, which was suffered on Sept. 26, 2015 after a collision with former Georgia place-kicker Marshall Morgan. Devon, Tish and Teah Gales reside in a two-bedroom Atlanta apartment — with little accessibility — while the former Southern wide receiver rehabs at Shepherd Center’s Beyond Therapy program. In addition, the family remains split as Donny and Dalen continue to live at their home in Baton Rouge.
Devon participates in therapy sessions five days per week and the plan is for the family to remain with the program until he gets close to his goal of walking once again.
While another step has been taken towards financing the family’s future home, Devon continues to progress at the Shepherd Center. In February, Devon was able to stand up with a harness and assistance from therapists.
“There’s not much more on the movements,” Tish said. “Devon does continue to get stronger.”