When Bonnies men's lacrosse head coach Randy Mearns had a recruit commit to the program, he would ask each player to give him something meaningful that would hang In newly minted his office.
Each recruit sent in an item that meant something to them, but two players, Sean Westley and Brett Dobson, decided to use the opportunity to honor someone that inspired them with bravery, courage and fortitude in the face of adversity— Tucker Williams.
Williams was just an 8-year-old when he lost his battle with cancer, but his legacy lives on through the "Braver Than Brave" campaign, a phrase instituted by his nurses who were amazed at his strength throughout treatments.
"He was just a special kid," said Westley, who along with Dobson played for Tucker's dad Shawn, a former member of the Buffalo Bandits. "He loved to play with his friends, loved to play the game of lacrosse, and even though there was an age gap between us, it didn't seem like it. He was way beyond his years."
Westley gave Mearns a framed picture that reads, "We play for each other and we play for those who can't" with Tucker's name and number patch in the center. Dobson sent in a pair of shoes with Tucker's name and number on the left and #BraverThanBrave hashtag on the right.
"It reminds that whenever I complain about conditioning, I just have to remember there's always someone else that's going through something worse than what I'm going through," Dobson said.
For Mearns, those two objects inspire a tremendous belief in the players he brought in to represent the Bonnies program.
"When things are hard for Brett or for Shawn individually, I don't need to scream, I don't need to yell at them," Mearns said. "I can sit there and say 'hey Sean what's this mean to you, 'Brett, what's this mean to you, why did you give me this."
Beyond the gift and campaign, Westley remembers Tucker through something even more personal, his jersey number.
"That's why I decided to wear number 51, to honor him," he said. "His memory is all about playing for those who can't and trying to carrying on his legacy."