Spe­cial guests key part of Cats’ bowl trip

Lexington Herald-Leader (Sunday) - - Sports - BY JENNIFER SMITH

Ken­tucky has sev­eral spe­cial guests with it in Florida this week as it pre­pares for the Citrus Bowl.

The fam­ily of Marco Shemwell, the 4-year-old boy who was struck and killed shortly af­ter at­tend­ing the UK-Mur­ray State game, ar­rived on a plane with Ken­tucky staff mem­bers on Satur­day, an of­fi­cial con­firmed to the Her­ald-Leader.

Ken­tucky’s play­ers and Coach Mark Stoops served as hon­orary pall bear­ers at the boy’s funeral.

The coaches and play­ers have dis­cussed how much Shemwell’s story im­pacted them. A UK Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal nurse that cared for Marco also re­cently was sur­prised with a trip to the bowl.

“I’m glad we played good for Marco and the Shemwell fam­ily,”

Stoops said af­ter UK’s win over Mis­sis­sippi State. “I’m so glad that we played well in honor of him and that fam­ily.”

Cats run­ning back Benny Snell wrote “RIP Marco” on his wrist be­fore the game and called the en­tire sit­u­a­tion “heartbreaking.

“This team, we played for him,” Snell said the next week. “We played for that fam­ily. For his life to be so short — him just want­ing to see a foot­ball game for the first time and en­joy life. And just think­ing about it, it just makes me so sad.”

An­other boy who has had a big im­pact on the Cats this sea­son, Luke Klaus­ing, has been at all of the bowl prac­tices in Orlando with the team. Josh Allen stopped to mess with him in be­tween drills.

Se­nior cor­ner­back Der­rick Baity played catch with the 11-yearold from Louisville dur­ing Satur­day’s prac­tice.

Klaus­ing, who has bat­tled cys­tic fi­bro­sis most of his life, was “re­cruited” to play for UK at the be­gin­ning of the sea­son. He’s been a part of al­most all of the

ACats’ ac­tiv­i­ties.

“He’s like our lit­tle brother, a team­mate, al­ways makes our days bet­ter when Luke is here,” line­backer Kash Daniel said this week. “He al­ways has a smile on his face and just bring­ing that pos­i­tive vibe, that pos­i­tive en­ergy to the team. It’s re­ally cool to have him around. We’re glad to have him and his fam­ily with us.”

Ken­tucky also has a spe­cial mes­sage that it has car­ried with it from Lex­ing­ton in the form of a ban­ner from the UK Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal that tight end C.J. Conrad vis­ited reg­u­larly.

It’s hang­ing up in the Cats’ Orlando ho­tel.

Conrad said: “All the kids I was vis­it­ing through the weeks of the sea­son signed it and that meant a lot to me.”

Lex­ing­ton

Ken­tucky prac­ticed on Satur­day ahead of its Citrus Bowl matchup with Penn State.

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