The last few weeks of the semester are usually among the most stressful. Between final exams, projects, papers and presentations, students often feel overwhelmed as the semester winds down.
But, for junior linebacker Dalton Santos, academic stress is currently the least of his worries. Last Thursday, Santos’ mother, Mary Vista Santos, was rushed to an emergency room in Tyler. On Friday morning, Santos was told that his mother had an aortic aneurysm and will need open heart surgery — news that took Santos some time to digest.
“Now it’s me looking at her,” Santos said. “She’s scared — the first time I’ve ever seen her scared, the first time I’ve ever seen her in a hospital bed.”
Santos’ mother is a single mom of three and her procedure, which Santos said could cost approximately $150,000, won’t be covered by health insurance. To help get the money necessary for the procedure, Santos created a fundraising page and reached out to his Twitter followers for assistance. As of Wednesday evening, over $41,000 had been pledged, shattering the page’s original goal of $5,000.
“It makes me tear up,” Santos said. “It makes me feel good inside to know that people are looking after my family and just trying to help us. It’s awesome. It’s overwhelming. I’m so thankful. I’m truly thankful for it.”
Texas’ compliance page tweeted Monday that NCAA bylaw 126.96.36.199(g) permits the donations to Santos’ mother.
Since posting the link, Santos said he frequently checks his mom’s page and is humbled by the positive responses every time he does so.
“And it’s hard, it is. It’s hard on everybody. It’s hard on my family. But the support that I’ve had in the last two days is unbelievable,” Santos said. “It kind of breaks me up inside to see how many people really, really care, and how what I do on Saturdays and everything makes a difference.”