Having likely been exposed to this reality firsthand time and time again, your years at the University taught you that the influence of our team and our school travel far beyond the white lines of Scott Stadium. By virtue of wearing the orange and blue across your chest, you automatically assumed a platform to influence change and offer encouragement. Established in 2016, the Thursday's Heroes program does exactly that by recognizing Wahoo fans who are facing a wide range of circumstances and may need a little support.

We Need Your Help

It takes a considerable amount of work to bring smiles to our Heroes each week. As such (and recognizing that the whole is very much greater than the sum of the parts here), the program has specifically requested our help.

In the spring we were able to raise $2,000 thanks to the generosity of several Club members. While those funds will absolutely be put to good use this season, the strength, variety, and reach of our individual and collective networks has the power to move the needle so much further.

In addition to a private tour of the University’s athletic facilities and meetings with the players and coaching staff, the post-practice Thursday’s Heroes ceremony has grown to include personalized gifts (e.g., a customized jersey, autographed memorabilia, special guests from other UVA teams, etc.) and opportunities to connect the Heroes with some of their own heroes (see below).

If you think you may be able to arrange something along similar lines, or entirely unique and meaningful, please contact Jordy Bullock: or 540-894-3040. You can also contribute by submitting a nomination or by coming to practice to see that week's Hero being honored - an image you won't soon forget.

The Heroes

Below is our current lineup for the 2019 season. Check back later as we fill in the remaining dates, and get to know more of our past Heroes here.

Paxton Finkleston

Pittsburgh: August 29

Age: 10

Summary: From Paxton's mother, Kerri: Williams Syndrome (WS) is a rare genetic condition caused by a spontaneous deletion of 26-28 genes on the edge of the 7th chromosome. Our Pax has WS and frankly, we hit the jackpot with this kid! This is not because he is 1 in 10,000, but because of the tremendous joy and perspective he brings to our lives and the lives of all who meet him. While Pax has faced many challenges (cardiovascular/blood vessel problems, learning differences, developmental delay etc), he presents as a person with tremendous personality, joy, empathy, kindness and happiness! Mostly, Paxton is love, and this love he brings to his family, and all who meet him, is the greatest gift. Simply put, Paxton brings out the best in others and makes people happy! How great is that and how fortunate are we?!.

Interests: Playing basketball, playing tag, jumping on his trampoline, dancing/music, and bike rides. Currently, he is fascinated by college band drumlines and drumline battles on YouTube.

Things to Know: Paxton is the younger brother of current long snapper, Tucker Finkleston.

Tolson Family

William & Mary: September 4

Heroes: Leland (2), Shelby (6), Shelton (9)

Leland was born with premature lungs at 37 weeks. Transferred to UVA at 30 hours old. Has cerebral palsy, global developmental delay, Bess syndrome, and is non-verbal. He goes to 6 therapies a week and gets Botox to prevent tone issues every 3 months. He has had recurring bought pneumonia and been admitted for it. He has had one surgery so far to prevent him from aspirating and to clean his lungs out. He will need plastic surgery for his chin when older. He also takes Valium 3 times a day to help tone issues.

Shelby has a condition where she sweats very little. She has overheated multiple times and has had seizures with fevers. It is called anhidrosis. She is very limited on what she can do when it is hot out.

Top interests: Horses, unicorns, baseball, ballet, animals.

Things to Know: Shelby loves music artist Carly Pierce.

Shelton is diagnosed with autism, anxiety, ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), and hypotonia.

Top interests: Legos, video games, baseball, collecting cards, drawing.

Things to Know: Shelton likes the Jurassic World movies and actor Chris Pratt.

Ava Breeza

Notre Dame: September 26

Age: 13

Summary: Ava is a student with autism, single kidney, and has limited verbal communication.

Top interests: Sitting outside, swinging on the swings, riding roller coasters, swimming, taking walks outside.

Things to Know: Ava loves Joe Jonas and the song Cake By The Ocean.

Wish List: Theme park tickets, trip to the beach, and sports gear

Harmon Smith

Duke: October 17th

Age: 10

Summary: Harmon is a student at the Virginia Institute of Autism, where he works on building academic and social skills. He is an extremely bright, creative, and energetic student who enjoys nothing more than talking and spending time with other people. He is extremely athletic and follows college and professional sports as any avid fan would. He's a talented basketball player who also has strengths in football and Parkour.

Top interests: Basketball, football, video games, BMX, skating

Things to Know: Harmon’s favorite professional athlete is Steph Curry and he loves the song Old Town Road.

Matt Woodard

Louisville: October 31

Age: 15

Summary: Matt is nonverbal and does not walk independently. He has a brain malformation from birth. He is healthy other than a seizure disorder that is well-controlled. He does not follow commands or do any signing. He is very happy and charming and social, loves people and action and is a bit of a daredevil it seems to us.

Top interests: Going to see live music and going to sports events

Things to Know: Matt’s favorite music artists are Pharrell, Chris Stapleton and Dierks Bentley. His favorite professional athlete is Malcolm Brogdon.

Daniel Nolen

Georgia Tech: November 7

Age: 12

Summary: Daniel is a student at the Virginia Institute of Autism. At school, he is learning social and academic skills that can be applied in the classroom and beyond. Daniel has a wide variety of friends at school and enjoys little more than joking around with his classmates and with the staff. He particularly enjoys his social skills classes and actively participates in discussions in that class. He also shines at P.E. and excels at a variety of sports (baseball, football, and ultimate frisbee included).

Top interests: Sports, Minecraft, video games, listening to rock music, watching old TV shows.

Things to Know: Daniel’s favorite music artist is Panic! at the Disco. His favorite sports are baseball, soccer, kickball.

The Squad

A BIG thanks to all those who have gathered around this effort and brought some measure of joy to our Heroes:

Athletes & Coaches

Heath Miller

Patrick Kearney

Charles Way

Chris Long

Shaquem Griffin

Cam Newton

Odell Beckham, Jr.

Ben Roethlisberger

Peyton Manning

Tim Tebow

Leah Smith

Tony Bennett

Bruce Arena


Philadelphia Eagles

Washington Redskins

Portland Trailblazers

New York Giants

Seattle Seahawks

Under Armor


Tina Fey

Hugh Jackman

John Grisham

Dude Perfect

Kenny Chesney


King's Dominion

Norfolk Zoological Park

Ripley's Believe It or Not

Red Light Management

Aberdeen Barn


Crozet Pizza


Buffalo Wild Wings

Cavalier Computers

VFAC - Thursday's Hero