Driphus Jackson '15 Leads the Way in an Effort to Fulfill a Child's Dream

Driphus Jackson '15 Leads the Way in an Effort to Fulfill a Child's Dream

Driphus Jackson with Rice football players

The football team at Rice University has adopted a new player to its roster. Fre’Derick Young Red III (better known as “Ziggy”) is a seven year old boy with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which is a terminal form of cancer. Driphus Jackson ‘15, a sport management major, led the initiative to have Ziggy sign a contract making him a member of the team. Jackson wanted to give Ziggy an experience that otherwise he would never get to witness.

While receiving cancer treatment at MD Anderson Hospital in Houston, Ziggy was paid a visit by Jackson where an instant connection was made. Ziggy, an only child, moved to Houston after doctors gave him the unfortunate news about his health. Since meeting Jackson, and the 104 new members of his family, Ziggy’s outlook on life has improved.

"I never had big brothers before," Ziggy said. "They make me feel like I'm part of the team forever."

Ziggy attended practice just like every other player where he accompanied Jackson in drills. He was given a jersey and uniform items for him to wear and look like part of the team. Jackson did not hesitate to take Ziggy under his wing and show him what Rice University is all about.

"At first, he was kind of shy with us,” Jackson said. “But once we got the football in his hands, and once we got him moving around, he really opened up to us.”

Not long after their first meeting, Jackson came up with another opportunity to enhance Ziggy’s experience with Rice University. He presented the idea of starting a website to raise money to pay for medical expenses for Ziggy and his mother. The team has raised about $3,500, a number that is increasing daily with donations from people across the globe. Despite his efforts Jackson still seeks out more avenues to help Ziggy do whatever he desires.

“Seeing Ziggy, it just melts you,” Jackson said. “You ask yourself, 'What more can I do for him?'”

Ryan Pollard a senior from Arlington, Texas, is double-majoring in Kinesiology and Sport Management.