CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. - On the same day Dennis Drue was in court, Matt Hardy was out of the state thanks to generous donors from all over the world. He spent a few days in Florida so he could cheer on the Fighting Irish in the championship game.
Matt Hardy calls it the experience of a lifetime.
While most of us watched the BCS Championship Game on ESPN, Matt and his best friend got to experience it in the stands. Matt said he loved every minute even though they were surrounded by crimson and white instead of navy blue and gold.
"One of the kids behind us had Alabama pompoms and kept hitting us in the head every time they scored. It was kind of funny," said Matt.
Along with attending the game, Matt was able to spend three nights in Miami, snapping pictures as he took in the sights and sounds. All of it is thanks to Shenendehowa High School alumni. The effort was spearheadewd by teacher Jon Piraino who was able to spring the surprise on Christmas Eve.
"His smile, it's contagious. It just didn't go away. He was very excited. He was kind of taken aback and in shock," said Piraino. "The great thing about it was to see where the pledges were coming from. Some of them were coming from Singapore, Japan, London, California, Colorado, all over the place. So it was really exciting to see all that happen."
Matt became a fan of the Fighting Irish about ten years ago after his brother won tickets to a Notre Dame game against Syracuse and got to tag along. Even with the loss Monday night, you can bet Matt Hardy is no fair-weather fan.
"Yeah, I'll keep rooting for them. Next year they'll do just as good. Hopefully they're going to win," said Matt.
Since that terrible night back in December, it's been a rocky path and being able to get away for even a while meant a lot.
"I'm really thankful and grateful that they did this for me," said Matt. "It really lifted my spirits and helped me out."
Piraino said they are still accepting donations since they did not raise all $6,000 needed for the trip. Any money donated above that will be given to the Hardy family in the form of a gift card for groceries.
If you'd like to donate, you can go here: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=XFWYGLWJD9G3U