More than 70 people made it possible for freshman Kyle Sutton to go home for Thanksgiving, and some of those people barely knew him.
By Abby Petersen
The Bethel Royals football field is almost 1,000 miles from Kyle Sutton’s home in Fort Worth, Texas, but he came for the game, anyway.
When he moved into Getsch Residence Hall Room 208 in August, he stayed up until 2 or 3 a.m. almost every night in friends’ dorms, gaming and laughing. In the mornings, he slapped the snooze.
On game days, he wore jersey No. 8.
But Sutton missed his mother, father, brothers and dogs. The fact was practically tattooed on his chest – he has a tattoo that reads “family first.” He discussed going home for Thanksgiving with his family, but they agreed the cost was too much for what would be less than a week-long break.
One night in Getsch, Sutton mentioned this to his friends. When he left the room to go to bed, they started brainstorming.
Freshmen Ethan Krehbiel-Valoaga, Gideon Erhabor and Riley Smith started the idea to get Sutton home for break. They called Sutton’s mom in Texas to coordinate dates and organized a group chat for people who wanted to contribute to the fund for a plane ticket. More than 70 people contributed, and the idea took off.
On Oct. 30, hordes of people gathered in Getsch 2.5 and waited for Sutton to walk in.
“Kyle, you’re going home,” they yelled.
Krehbiel-Valoaga handed him a yellow envelope with a card and a $400 round-trip American Airlines ticket to Fort Worth. Sutton was speechless.
Freshman Rylee Forshee recorded the moment on her phone and tweeted the video that night. Within hours, the tweet went viral. By Nov. 12, the tweet had more than 1,600 likes and 380 retweets.
Sutton said it took him a few minutes to realize what was happening.
“I opened (the card) and it’s this ticket and I was like, oh my gosh, y’all did not,” Sutton said.
When he got back to his room, he called his mom.
“It was one of those like, telepathically cries,” he said. “I knew my mom was crying, too.”
Smith and Krehbiel-Valoaga agree – Sutton deserved the ticket.
“When he walks in the room, it’s like no matter what’s going on, he just lights the room up. Everybody smiles. It’s, like, impossible not to laugh when this guy’s around,” Smith said.
For Sutton, the gift was the motivation he needed to finish the semester. Not to mention, it means he’ll get to see his two dogs.
“The moral of the story is that there’s some awesome people at this school,” he said. “… I need to buy y’all a ticket, man.”