Season opener at UNC features video call with Head Coach Mack Brown, custom Tailgate Nation care packages from General Mills, exclusive UNC gifts and more

DETROIT, MICH. — With its most creative season to date, bringing the joy of Game Day into family rooms nationwide, Special Spectators is going all-virtual with its 2020 College Football season, commencing with its first event on Monday, November 9. In partnership for the entire season with General Mills, a corporation driven by purpose, the organization is planning six events during November and December, re-imaging the experience entirely for a very different season. The debut event built around upcoming games at UNC will include four families from UNC Children’s Hospital.

“During a year that’s been profoundly hard for families nationwide, we recognize the particular impact on the families battling life threatening illnesses,” said General Mills manager Lisa Kessel. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with Special Spectators to reimagine VIP Game Days in a safe way by bringing it into the family room. This budding partnership aligns perfectly with our focus on purpose and community.”

Together with their partners at General Mills, along with Learfield IMG College, Special Spectators has created and will host a unique version of its signature all-access day of football, which typically includes behind-the-scenes stadium and locker room tours, an exclusive hospitality area prior to the game, and an array of special touches. This season, families will participate in an in-home experience that includes video calls with coaches, legendary players and other celebrities, tailgate care packages showcasing select General Mills brands and their Tailgate Nation recipes, gift packages supplied by the athletic departments and Special Spectators and finally, an invitation for fans to text encouraging notes of support to the children and their families.

The 2020 Special Spectators Season with General Mills:

11/9: UNC
11/19 : Alabama
11/20: Arkansas
12/3: Iowa State
TBD: Texas
TBD: Florida

“Special Spectators has always been about lifting spirits for these incredible warriors and their families, by putting them front and center as VIPs to experience the joy of Game Day,” said Special Spectators Founder and Executive Director, Blake Rockwell. “Even as the 2020 College Football season approached and there was so much uncertainty, we knew we had to take “special” to a new level as soon as we could. It meant a great deal to us and the kids that General Mills embraced our mission and our plan. It’s been fantastic to work with them to re-imagine our season and the possibilities, going forward. We will continue to adapt to serve the children of Special Spectators, in communities nationwide. Even if that means taking the fun inside for a while. We can’t wait to share the rest of this very special season with our supporters.”

Special Spectators is an entirely volunteer run 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that uplifts seriously ill children and their families nationwide, year in and year out, ultimately aspiring to be all year-round and offer experiences across additional sports. Founder Blake Rockwell has been recognized for his long-standing work with the children of Special Spectators on CNN Heroes. The organization has served over 10,000 patients, parents and siblings to date at nearly 450 Game Days, profoundly impacting the lives of seriously ill children by delivering the rare joy of Game Day and inviting them to what has often been described as the greatest day of their often challenging and stressful, and sometimes short, lives. They deliver on their mission as an entirely volunteer organization, with as many as 35-50 experiences in any given season. The all-virtual season reflects their focus on adapting to the needs of the families the organization serves.

“Having the opportunity to partner with General Mills and Special Spectators to still create memorable experiences for these kids and their families in the most different of football seasons is incredibly rewarding, and our school partners have been phenomenal in the pivot from on-field to virtual,” said Bill Hirsh, vice president, national sales for Learfield IMG College, the multimedia rightsholder for the six schools engaged in the virtual visits this fall.

About General Mills
General Mills is a leading global food company whose purpose is to make food the world loves. Its brands include Cheerios, Annie’s, Yoplait, Nature Valley, Häagen-Dazs, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Old El Paso, Wanchai Ferry, Yoki, BLUE and more. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, General Mills generated fiscal 2020 net sales of U.S. $17.6 billion. In addition, General Mills’ share of non-consolidated joint venture net sales totaled U.S. $1.0 billion.

About Special Spectators
Special Spectators partners with athletic departments, coaching staffs, athletes, local hospitals, student volunteers, network broadcasters, and corporate sponsors to serve these children and families nationwide. The organization is entirely volunteer-based, with no paid staff and relies heavily on donations and in-kind support to fuel its calendar of events each year. Read more of Founder Blake Rockwell’s story on CNN Heroes website, their Facebook ( or Twitter pages. To donate and help give even more seriously ill children a magical VIP game day, please visit the website ( There you can also find out more about what your donations cover — everything from food, to tents and chairs, and transportation.

About Learfield IMG College
Learfield IMG College is the leading media and technology services company in intercollegiate athletics. The company unlocks the value of college sports for brands and fans through an omnichannel platform with innovative content and commerce solutions for fan engagement. The Learfield IMG College suite of services includes licensing and multimedia sponsorship management; publishing, audio, digital and social media; data analytics; ticketing, ticket sales and professional concessions expertise; branding; campus-wide business and sponsorship development; and venue technology systems. Headquartered in Plano, Texas, the company has long had the privilege of being an advocate for intercollegiate athletics and the student-athlete experience. Since 2008, it has served as title sponsor for the acclaimed Learfield IMG College Directors’ Cup, supporting athletic departments across all divisions.