Like most Auburn fans, Jonathon Spearman has had a pretty good couple of months and it is about to get better.
Spearman, a senior criminal justice major at Columbus State University, grew up a big Auburn fan despite the fact that most of his family pulled for Alabama. He was in Jordan-Hare Stadium when Auburn pulled off miracle wins against Georgia and Alabama on its way to Mondays BCS championship game against Florida State in the Rose Bowl.
Three weeks ago he got to meet Gus Malzahn when the Auburn coach was speaking to a banquet in Columbus Hilton Garden Inn, where Spearman works as a front desk clerk. Folks told Malzahn that Spearman was the biggest Auburn fan they knew, and the coach sought him out. Malzahn even signed Spearmans tie and posed for a photo.
Not a bad month.
Well, thanks to a frequent Hilton Garden Inn guest, Spearman will be leaving this weekend for Pasadena to cheer the Tigers on in the title game. And the way he will get to the big game is a Hail Mary worthy of Auburns fortuitous season.
Spearman was prepared to watch the title game at his Phenix City home.
A friend had a extra ticket for the game to be played in the historic Rose Bowl. Spearman didnt have the cash to buy a plane ticket.
I didnt have a way out there, Spearman said. The flights were $1,000 or more, and I just couldnt afford it.
Enter Shawn Frey, a general contractor from Port St. Joe, Fla., who stays at the Hilton Garden Inn six or seven nights a month and has done so for more than a year and a half.
Hes a good kid, Frey said of Spearman. Hes the kind of guy if you are having a tough day, he can just turn it around with his smile.
After Auburn won the SEC title, Frey was staying at the hotel and heard a bartender talking about Spearman, She told Frey that Spearman had a ticket to the game, but no plane ticket.
Frey went over and asked Spearman for his email address. He then called Delta, cashed in some of his frequent flier miles and bought Spearman a plane ticket to Los Angeles.
He is just a special guy and I thought he deserved to go, Frey said. I hope he enjoys it. I am sure it is something he will remember the rest of his life.
After booking the flight, Frey went back to Spearman at the front desk and told him to check his email. When he did, he found a confirmation for the flight.
Spearman cant stop smiling.
You dont understand how excited I am, Spearman said this week.
It didnt take long for word of Spearmans good fortune and Freys generosity to reach Hilton Garden Inn partner Glenn Davis, a Columbus councilor.
I have never seen anything like this, Davis said. He is an outstanding young man. But to me it shows if you take a little time, go the extra mile and do the right things, you never know how you might get repaid.
The fact that Spearman gets to watch his favorite team in the biggest of games is not lost on Davis, a former Major League baseball player,
I have never seen a bigger Auburn fan, said Davis, who played baseball at Georgia. I am so happy for him. It couldnt happen to a better guy.