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Knoxville kids name elf in Eric Berry's honor | News

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Knoxville kids name elf in Eric Berry's honor

(WBIR- Knoxville) The story of former Volunteer football player Eric Berry and his diagnosis of Hodgkin Lymphoma has caught national headlines. Berry, now a safety for the Kansas City Chiefs, learned about his diagnosis a couple of weeks ago and is undergoing treatment at a hospital in Atlanta.

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"We are all family. We are all Vols for life," said Coach Butch Jones, UT Football Head Coach. "Eric is very, very special to us. He continues to be in our thoughts and in our prayers."

Berry's current and former teammates are letting him know they are thinking about him every chance they get. But the support doesn't just stop on the football field, it's been seen all around East Tennessee, too.

Mrs. Clapp's third grade classroom at Gibbs Elementary School has found a unique way to honor Eric Berry just in time for Christmas.

"He's gotten rid of his elf hat and now wears only orange," said Tracy Clapp, a third grade teacher at Gibbs Elementary School.

Berry is an elf that showed up in Mrs. Clapp's classroom a couple weeks ago. He has been a hit ever since. Luke Tidwell, who holds a special place for Eric Berry in his heart, came up with the name.

"People have been saying in on the news a lot," explained Tidwell, "and I just thought of Eric Berry having cancer and I just kind of wanted to name him something like that."

The students submitted letters picking a name and explaining why they chose it. Clapp said Luke's stood out.

"In his letter he told the class, and I don't think a lot of the class had even heard of Eric Berry or what was going on," Clapp said. "But he had written that Eric Berry had cancer and that he had played at UT and had a brother at UT now and that he was playing for the Kansas City Chiefs."


Luke loves sports, especially UT, and learning Berry had been diagnosed with cancer was hard for him to take in.

"My dad said it one day in the living room and I'm like 'oh my gosh'," he said, tears welling up when he asked if it made him sad.

Clapp said Berry the Elf has stepped up in true Vol form, wearing orange and bringing the class orange gifts.

"He has his own orange toboggan, his own UT blanket, and an orange scarf."

Clapp said Berry isn't as mischievous as other elves.

"He's been in the Hershey's bucket," Tidwell said. "He has been in the paper towels!"

Luke wanted Eric Berry to know he has been thinking about it and left him with one final wish.

"I hope you get better so you can play football some more."


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