PENSACOLA — As the sun crept through the clouds late Thursday, bathing a moody Pensacola afternoon in warm light, Logan Bush smiled.
Seated behind a microphone at the Darrell Gooden Center on the West Florida campus, Bush was ready to sign his letter of intent.
To his left was his family — his mother, Michaela, father, Michael, and brother, Gavin, all meeting his gaze with proud smiles of their own. And to his right was Argonauts football coach Pete Shinnick and a brand new family, one with 120 new big brothers.
“It’s a great day for the Argonauts,” Shinnick told the media in attendance. “We’re very excited to add Logan Bush to our family here and our football team.
“We’re excited about his future with us and the opportunity to spend some time with him and have him join our program.”
The team, which had gathered at the back of the room behind the cameras, started to cheer, welcoming their new teammate.
From Milton, Logan is only 9 years old, and he’s living with cystic fibrosis, a “progressive, genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and limits the ability to breathe over time,” according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
It doesn’t affect his love of football, though, or his competitive nature.
Logan loves football. His whole family does, Michaela said. They used to be Alabama fans, but Michaela said they might keep the crimson in the closet now that Logan has a team of his own.
And make no bones about it, Logan is part of the team. The letter of intent might be ceremonial, but his place in the locker room isn’t.
Along with his family, Logan met the Argos this past Friday for a team dinner. The team showed him around the facilities and invited him out to practice. On Sunday he went bowling with the them. He spent Thursday night at the Argos’ Fan Day scrimmage and will continue to play an active role with the team when it kicks off its fourth full season in September.
“The way that they welcomed us and already made us feel like part of their family, it has been incredible,” Michaela said.
The connection started on, of all things, Facebook. Michaela was scrolling through her timeline in March when she happened across an ad for Team IMPACT.
Founded in 2011 and based out of Boston, “Team IMPACT is a national nonprofit that connects children facing serious or chronic illnesses with college athletic teams, forming lifelong bonds and life-changing outcomes,” according to its website. The organization has “matched more than 1,800 children with more than 600 colleges and universities in 48 states” since its establishment.
“I went to their website and I thought, ‘That is super cool,’” Michaela said.
“I love doing this,” he said. “This is so fun. I loved bowling, and I won, too. And I’m glad I beat (Joe Wintrick) by about 40 points.”
Between dinner and bowling, Logan bonded with the senior guard quickly, Michaela said.
“He’s really connected with them, and like I said, they’ve all been amazing,” she said. “It’s gonna be, I think, a really good relationship. I’m excited about it.”
Thursday, Wintrick presented Logan with own UWF jersey, welcoming him personally to the Argo family, a proud grin spreading across the gentle giant’s face.
“Logan Bush is part of our team now,” Wintrick said. “We went bowling on Sunday night and that was fantastic … He’s been to a team meal, he’s gonna be at some games this year, he’s gonna be at the scrimmage and practice, and we’re all looking forward to having him on the sidelines cheering us on.
"He’s gonna be a good addition to the family.”