Avid Cougar sports fan Katana Whitaker’s Tuesday started out with this simple, playful jest on Twitter.
if someone flys me to Provo for the #byu vs gonzaga game I'll marry you
— katawana (@WatanaKhitaker) January 30, 2017
Currently residing in Texas, Whitaker didn’t think too much of her message.
“I really thought nothing was going to come of it,” Whitaker said. “I feel like I make jokes like that all the time.”
Little did she know, members of BYU’s student section, the ROC, saw her tweet and wanted to make a difference.
“One thing we like to do as the ROC board is see students from all walks of life connect with each other and leave BYU being the biggest BYU fan ever,” said Vice President of the ROC Russell Nam Pham. “One of the biggest motivations of being on the ROC board and doing so much volunteer work is not for the players in front of us but the fans behind us. Whenever we get a chance, we try to find little opportunities to make somebody’s day.”
Katana is in TX about to go on her mission! We only need $389 to get her to the game! $1 x 389 people= $389! ➡ Venmo: kwhitaker22
RT RT RT! https://t.co/VkCW7EgysJ
— The Roar Of Cougars (@byuROC) January 31, 2017
That tweet received a plethora of attention, and the donations started coming in.
“There were like 60 people (that donated),” Whitaker said. “When I got two donations, I thought I was doing good. Then all these people gave me all these generous donations and I was so surprised.”
Nam Pham was also surprised about the result.
“It was a long shot because a lot of poor college kids don’t have anything to donate,” Nam Pham said. “But we figured, ‘Hey, this could be an opportunity to make someone’s day.’ So we went out on a limb and retweeted it and it worked out.”
By the next day, Whitaker had received half the cost of her ticket and was able to book a flight for Thursday morning.
“I got to the airport at 5:45 a.m. CST and I got in at about 9 a.m. MST,” Whitaker said. “I came straight to the Marriott Center and was there all day. It was awesome.”
The flight and game did make for a long day, as Whitaker was awake for 22 straight hours.
so happy to be back at the Marriott Center #BYUBTL ? pic.twitter.com/peDcBF9IWR
— katawana (@WatanaKhitaker) February 2, 2017
Come game time, Whitaker united her voice with 4,999 others in a ROC section that was filled to capacity two hours before tip off.
“We weren’t expecting the ROC to sell out that fast,” Nam Pham said. “Seeing the students cheer their hearts out until the last second was pretty cool.”
Whitaker agreed that the atmosphere was amazing.
so grateful I got to come & be part of @byuROC tonight. LOVE MY COUGS. thank you thank you!??
— katawana (@WatanaKhitaker) February 3, 2017
Thursday’s game was most likely Whitaker’s last, as she is preparing to serve an LDS mission in Londrina, Brazil. She enters the Provo Missionary Training Center on March 28, which puts a hold on any of the marriage plans stemming from the date.
“Maybe in 18 months,” Whitaker said. “A few people have actually asked me out because of this, so I have a few dates this weekend. But we’ll see.”