JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Thousands turned out to watch today's gridiron battle at EverBank Field, but two families were focused on much more than just football at this year's Gator Bowl.
The Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation gave two families from Nebraska and Georgia the ultimate game-day experience, all in effort to promote their work in providing college scholarships to military children who have lost a parent while they were serving the country.
The Blake family and the Gloster family are part of a club that no one really wants to be apart of, but they both say it's a club they're grateful for because it's allowing their children to pursue higher education.
Jessica Blake lost her husband Thomas in a plane crash near NAS Jax during his service as a Navy pilot eight years ago. At the time, she was pregnant with their daughter Lily, and her son Tommy was just 2-years-old.
She said the financial burden of college for her children seemed impossible, until the foundation stepped in to offer scholarships.
"It is so nice to know that I don't have to tell them, 'oh you can't apply for college x, or you can't go to grad school,'" said Blake. "I don't have to stifle their dreams at all, I can just let them dream and let them soar."
And soaring is exactly what the Gloster family is doing.
Devin and Brianna Gloster lost their father 10 years ago while he was serving as a supply officer in the Navy. The foundation has helped provide 21-year-old Devin with enough money to help him pursue his dreams at Georgia Southern University.
Brianna, 17, has her sights set on the University of Georgia.
"I definitely want to go to law school," said Brianna Gloster. "I want to be an attorney and probably start my own firm when I get older."
The organization's goal is to honor the lives of servicemen and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for out country, by ensuring the success of those they loved through the promise of a higher education.
For both the Blakes and the Glosters, the gift of the Gator Bowl and a college degree is more than either family could have ever asked for.
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