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Rion Holcombe graduates from Clemson LIFE

More than two million people watched Rion Holcombe on a video, as he opened an acceptance letter, and realized that he was going to college. Now, two years later, the 22-year-old with Down syndrome is a graduate of the ClemsonLIFE Program. “It feels awesome a lot. I am proud,” Holcombe said of the graduation ceremony this past weekend. Rion is now ready for his next step – looking for a job. Read more.


The R word: R for Remarkable

In the dictionary, the word “retarded” is defined as a description of slowness or the limitation in intellectual understanding and awareness, emotional development and academic progress. More commonly it’s used as a synonym for stupid. 

This article is meant for the few who keep this word in their inadequate vocabulary.

The R-word hurts because it is unpleasant and insulting – it reflects upon individuals who are nothing short of incredible in a fashion that degrades and alienates. No one deserves that. 

Without the word “retarded,” the world can cultivate a more accepting attitude toward all people. Language affects attitudes, and attitudes are directly associated with actions. The world needs to eliminate the derogatory use of the r-word from everyday conversations and promote the acceptance of people with intellectual disabilities, as Clemson has tried to do. Read more.


Clemson-LIFE Gets a Night to Shine: A Column on royalty in Clemson-LiFE

Once in a while in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale. No one is too old for fairy tales, and Friday night was one for King Steven and me.

Steven is in ClemsonLIFE, and on Feb. 12, he was the king of the prom at Tim Tebow’s Night to Shine in Central at ALIVE Wesleyan Church. More than one king and queen were crowned Friday night. There were more than 30,000 queens and kings in at least 200 churches in 48 states and seven other countries. Night to Shine is an unforgettable prom night experience, centered on God’s love, for people with special needs ages 16 and older.

Every special needs guest of Night to Shine entered on a red carpet complete with a heartfelt welcome from an encouraging crowd and pleasant paparazzi. Once inside, each and every one of the guests received the royal treatment, including hair and makeup stations, limo rides, a karaoke room and, of course, dancing. Every one of the Night to Shine guests was crowned as king or queen of the prom. Read more.


Norcross grad a popular figure with Clemson football

Before David Saville was the subject of several television feature stories, from ESPN to the ACC Network, he was a homecoming king and popular football equipment manager at Norcross High School. David Saville, a Norcross native who graduated from Clemson University last year, has become a popular figure in both communities as a football equipment manager with a charming personality. Read more.


David & Jacob: Living our values at Clemson University - December 2015

David and Jacob

In the spring and fall of 2014, Pi Kappa Phi started and continued the expansion process on the Clemson University campus. Expansion Consultants Keenan Dollar, Theta Alpha (Southern Miss), and Trae Hestness, Alpha Omicron (Iowa State), had a very successful recruitment in the spring and returned for the fall semester to focus on brotherhood, philanthropy and teaching the chapter how to recruit on their own. “In the fall, I got a call from Glenn Aspinwall, who serves on the Pi Kappa Phi Properties board, about an opportunity to connect the chapter with some students from ClemsonLIFE,” said Trae Hestness. “Glenn told me more about Jacob and David and things took off.” Many chapter members already volunteered with ClemsonLIFE and knew both Jacob and David.

In January, David and Jacob were invited to speak at the Pi Kapp College for Chapter Officers in Charlotte. “Jacob and David realize they have a role to play. They don't try to play up their disabilities. They are just themselves. They just take it in stride,” said Bobby Saville. It was a powerful experience for both David and Jacob’s families as well as the undergraduate brothers in attendance. Read more.


Rion HolcombeRion Holcombe receives national scholarship - September 2015

Rion Holcombe has been selected to receive the highest scholarship given by the National Down Syndrome Society. The scholarship comes from the O'Neill Tabani Enrichment Fund and is a grant given to young adults with Down syndrome to help them enrich their lives by taking postsecondary classes. The funds will help Holcombe, who is enrolled in the Clemson University Life program. The university started the two-year program to help teach independent living skills to young adults with disabilities. Holcombe is in his second year of classes. Read more.


Kelsi Dungan, Wade Ward and David SavilleTrio brings Clemson graduation to LIFE - May 2015

Clemson University’s commencement exercises Friday sent nearly 3,000 new Tiger alums into the world. The last three students to cross the Littlejohn Coliseum stage at the afternoon session got the loudest cheers of all. Kelsi Dungan, Wade Ward and David Saville were the first students from the ClemsonLIFE (Learning is for Everyone) program to participate in graduation ceremonies. The two-year program helps learning disabled people to develop the skills they need for independent living. It’s a mix of academics, workforce training and other social skills taught on the university’s campus. Students who complete the program receive a certificate of postsecondary education. The program held its own ceremony last week, according to university spokeswoman Robin Denny. Dungan, 25, was born into a family of Clemson University football fans in Jackson, Mississippi. She admits that learning how to live on her own has been tough; however, she won’t have to worry about that immediately since she'll stay with her father and apply for a job at her local YMCA. Saville, 25, will resume his role with the Tigers this fall. In the meantime, he plans to keep his job at the Clemson Ingles and work on his independent living skills. Ward, 21, is going off into the world after his Clemson graduation. He admitted LIFE wasn't easy — “Keeping a budget was the hardest thing” — but the Simpsonville native said he would definitely recommend LIFE to anyone. Read more.


DJ LancasterSmithville: Heading for a new life - April 2015

Overcoming obstacles his whole life, Smithville High School graduate DJ Lancaster is all smiles after being accepted into a coveted spot at Clemson University’s ClemsonLIFE program in the upcoming fall semester. Accepting only 10 new students each year, the program teaches mentally challenged students how to live independently in their two-year program. For Lancaster, it’s a move that takes him over a thousand miles and six states away from the only home he’s ever known. “I’m excited,” Lancaster said, talking about his four-year dream to attend college. “It’s going to be a new experience for me.” Read more.


FOX Carolina catches up with Rion Holcombe - February 2015

For Rion Holcombe, it has been an exciting year. He has become a Clemson student, something he and his family hoped would happen. The moment of his acceptance to the ClemsonLIFE program was captured on home video. It featured Rion and his father, who asked, "What's that first word right there? It says... congratulations." Rion, who has Down Syndrome, responded, "I got accepted?" It was a short video that went viral, with nearly two million views so far. That video was taken in December of 2013. Just over a year later, Rion Holcombe is a full-time student at Clemson. He lives in an apartment with three roommates, takes a full load of classes, and has a job. The ClemsonLIFE program teaches students with intellectual disabilities more than the traditional reading and math. It also includes life skills and social skills. His mother, Susan Holcombe, explained, "He has to watch the time to be ready. He has to keep up with his own schedule because before we would wake him up in the morning, now he sets his alarm clock and gets himself up and ready and out." Read more.


ClemsonLIFE student David SavilleClemsonLIFE Students in the Spotlight - January 2015

ClemsonLIFE student David Saville was featured in in Clemson World Magazine: "If you've attended football games, you may have seen student equipment manager David Saville on the sidelines. Saville, who has Down Syndrome, hit the national spotlight this past year when he was featured in ESPN commentator Holly Rowe’s “Front Rowe” series as well as being a keynote speaker at the National Down Syndrome Congress Convention." Read the article.


Rion Holcombe, left, and Megan PehlingTwo friends prepare for Clemson Life program - December 2014

Like many soon-to-be college freshmen, Rion Holcombe and Megan Pehling can't wait for next football season. When the Clemson University Tigers take the field in Death Valley, there will be two new faces in the sea of orange and two new voices screaming cheers from the student section. Holcombe and Pehling are looking forward to the simple revelry of college life because it represents a normal part of young adulthood they never thought they'd achieve. Read more.


David Saville with Clemson Football Equipment Mangers Team

 

 

Special Impact - November 2014

An inspiring story about Clemson Football Equipment Manager, David Saville. Read more.


ClemsonLIFE Students at football practiceClemsonLIFE "All In" with Tigers - October 2014

Members of the ClemsonLIFE (Learning is for Everyone) Program enjoyed a field-trip of sorts Tuesday afternoon. Students in the program were invited to Clemson football practice by head coach Dabo Swinney. The ClemsonLIFE program has enjoyed immense success over the years as it provides students with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to reside on a college campus and learn to be independent by teaching functional academics, independent living, employment and social/leisure skills. ClemsonLIFE student David Saville is working as a student equipment manager for the football team, and on Tuesday, his classmates had the chance to watch him at work. Read more and watch the video.


Kaye Stanzione (fourth from right) tours Clemson’s indoor football practice facility with ClemsonLIFE students and Clemson staff.Alumni Stanziones give $100,000 to ClemsonLIFE - September 2014

The ClemsonLIFE (Learning is for Everyone) program will have additional growth opportunities thanks to a $100,000 gift from Clemson alumnus Bob Stanzione and his wife, Kaye. The Stanziones also offered to give an additional $100,000 in matching funds to encourage financial support for the program. “We believe that ClemsonLIFE is a life-changing initiative and we are honored to participate in this way,” Bob Stanzione said. “We hope our gift will inspire others to support the students in this wonderful program, and we have committed to match the next $100,000 that is donated to ClemsonLIFE.” Students supported by the Stanziones’ gift will be known as Monarch Scholars as a tribute to both family and ClemsonLIFE students, according to Kaye Stanzione. Read more.


Congratulations Rion on being the 2014 Ruby's Rainbow recipient. Read more.


College hopeful receives letter of his dreams - August 2014

From CBS Evening News, “On the Road,” Steve Hartman catches up with Rion Holcombe, who despite having Down syndrome, is on his way to college. Watch the video.

Rion HolcombeRion Holcombe Featured on CBS - August 2014

On August 22, 2014 Rion Holcombe was featured on CBS nightly news. CBS takes a look at Rion's journey from acceptance into the ClemsonLIFE program all the way to move in on August 17, 2014. Rion is part of an incoming class of 9 students. See the CBS Evening News story and the WSPA story leading up to the Evening News broadcast.


David Saville, Hooly Rowe, Dwayne Allen at National Down Syndrome ConventionDavid Saville at the NDSC - July 2014

Former Clemson tight end Dwayne Allen and David Saville were speakers at the National Down Syndrome Congress that took place July 10-14 in Indianapolis, IN. See more.


Clemson Rugby Adds Two Members Through ClemsonLife Program - January 2014

The Clemson rugby team added two new members last week, as Michael Decosimo and Tyler Davis accepted positions as team managers for the program. Read the article.


Nick Whitrow of Clemson Rugby welcomes Michael Decosimo to the program.

Nick Whitrow of Clemson Rugby welcomes Michael Decosimo to the program.


Clemson Coach Justin Hickey welcomes Nick Davis to the program.

Clemson Coach Justin Hickey welcomes Nick Davis to the program.


Rion Holcombe is all smiles after learning about his admission to the ClemsonLIFE program.Acceptance letter brings smile to new ClemsonLIFE student's face - December 2013

In early December, Susan Holcombe took a video of her son, Rion, as he learned he had been accepted to the ClemsonLIFE program. His reaction is priceless and has become a viral sensation, receiving more than 1.75 million views and climbing! In addition to Headline News, the story has also been featured on CNN, People magazine, the Today Show, USA Today, the Greenville News, The State, the Huffington Post, CBS Miami and countless other media outlets in the U.S. and around the world. Read more.


David Saville ESPN interviewUplifting Story on Clemson's Football Managers - September 2013

On Front Rowe, Holly Rowe gets an inside look at Clemson football managers David Saville and Brad Hammond, who have Down syndrome, and the inspiration they bring to the team. Read more.


Kelsi Dungan interviewClemsonLIFE student Kelsi Duggan bio - August 2013

Kelsi Dungan is currently attending ClemsonLIFE where she resides in an apartment on campus. After high school Kelsi volunteered at the institute of Marine Mammal Studies which inspired her goal to work at an aquarium after college. Read more.


Collette DivittoClemsonLIFE program touches Boston College linebacker Divitto - July 2013

There is no doubt that Steele Divitto’s loyalties reside at Boston College, a team that that he gives his all for on college football Saturdays in the fall. But for the past two seasons, a large piece of Divitto’s heart has also resided in Clemson, where his older sister Collette is part of the ClemsonLIFE program. Read more.