HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Tailgaters play a huge role in the excitement of football season. We got to catch up with the Houston Texans' "Tailgaters of the Year", who party with a purpose.
"We had a goal. We had a mission, our whole team," says Donda Young. A team of Texans' tailgaters gathers each week of football season to celebrate the fun of football, plus honor a man they all knew and loved, Brian Young.
"As long as I can remember, he would start going to the tailgates at 6 a.m., before the sun even rose to line up outside of the yellow lot, and that all started back when the Oilers became the Texans," says Brian's daughter, Chandler.
At that time, tailgating was a "guy thing" for Chandler's dad, Brian, but in 2011, he was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gherig's, a progressive neuro-degenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. He was confined to a wheelchair and relied on oxygen tanks to breathe.
That's when tailgating became a "family thing".
"It was originally Grillers and Chillers, and when my dad was diagnosed with ALS, they changed it to "B. Young Tailgaters" in honor of him, so that he would always be with us. Now, our motto is 'never quit', and we expect the Texans to have that motto as well," explains Chandler.
"I started taking him once he got sick and couldn't go on his own anymore. So we would get out there and go, and I actually fell in love with it, just like he did, and we haven't stopped going," says Brian's widow, Donda. "I think about him every single day, but every time I go (to tailgate), we always have a picture of him at the tailgate, we have a banner of his picture that says the 'B. Young Tailgaters Never Quit'," states Donda.
While Brian lost his battle to ALS, his family and friends keep meeting week-after-week in his honor, and they do it right! They have ice-bucket challenges to raise money to fight ALS and their team has grown so big and is so enthusiastic they won Tailgater of the Year last year.
"That was a lot of fun. That was really awesome. I mean, we made it all about Brian. And we made it all about Texans, and you know, of course HEB, but I mean, it was really nice. We had a whole big Brian section there, to make him part of it and honoring him and making sure that it wasn't just his name, people knew who he was and what he did and how much everyone loved him," says Donda.
Many loved Brian! More than 70 people have joined the "B. Young Tailgaters" and some of them have gone on to play a pivotal role in Chandler's life, who has been left without her dad early in life. Some of those special people include: Vince & Cheryl Cordova, Mike & Robin Gallagher, Terri & Richie Fritsche, Danny & Dora Flores, and Scott Lazar. Other special tailgaters include: Tim Woods, Rocky Meza, Jose Martinez, James Wilson, Elloy Sedillo,Tina Kendrick, Penny Fenton, Nathan & Brittany Price, and Courtney & Brian Wesneski. Everyone involved holds a special place in the hearts of Donda and Chandler.