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No Time for Tea: T. Moffatt Burriss ’40

Profile-T-Moffatt-BurrissAnderson native Moffatt Burriss spent World War II with the famous 82nd Airborne Division, from North Africa to VE Day, but perhaps his most searing memory of World War II is teatime.

His story is featured in the National World War II Museum’s Campaigns of Courage pavilion in New Orleans.

As a company commander in the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, Burriss participated in one of the war’s truly heroic actions. Operation Market-Garden was designed to seize a bridge over the lower Rhine at Arnhem in Holland. Burriss and his company quickly captured their initial objective. Next, they were ordered to cross the wide Waal River in a near-suicidal attempt to capture the critical Nijmegen Bridge by attacking from both ends at once. In collapsible, canvas-sided boats, Burriss and his men set out in broad daylight and under German guns. Losing half of his men, Burriss finally reached the north shore where he rallied the survivors. In the face of long odds and withering fire, the paratroopers scaled the dike and captured the north end of the bridge. At dusk, British tanks began to rumble across, in a frantic dash to reach British paratroopers desperately fighting in Arnhem against overwhelming German armor.

After crossing the bridge, the lead tank was disabled by a German 88 mm gun, bringing the column to a halt. Out came the teapots.

The captain commanding the tanks would not proceed without orders from his superiors. Using colorful language, Burriss objected, cocking his tommy gun and putting it to his ally’s head. “I’ve just sacrificed half of my company in the face of dozens of guns, and you won’t move because of one gun.” The tank commander dropped down into his tank and locked the hatch. The tanks were still there 24 hours later, and the surviving British paratroopers at Arnhem were forced to surrender.

Burriss was awarded the Silver Star, three Bronze Stars, Purple Heart, three presidential unit citations, French Fourragere, Belgium Fourragere and Dutch Lanyard.

From 1950 to 1990, he served as president of Burriss Construction Company. Burriss resides in Lexington.

CU-ICAR students unveil Deep Orange 5

InTheseHills-DeepOrangeStudents at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) unveiled its newest concept vehicle, sponsored by General Motors, at the GM Renaissance Center in Detroit.

Deep Orange 5, the fifth generation of Clemson’s concept vehicle program, is designed for young adults who will live in mega cities in 2020. The vehicle was designed by Art Center College of Design students and engineered by Clemson automotive engineering graduate students.

Features of the car include a reconfigurable seating concept, double-hinged doors, a two-piece rear hatch concept and a color display on the outside of the front doors for digital message display.

Janet Goings, associate director of research and development at General Motors, said, “Our experience working with these students was exceptional. They came up with creative and innovative ideas for their defined target consumers. We were very impressed with their holistic approach and final result of this accelerated product development process.”

Watch a 2-minute video showing the building of Deep Orange 5:

Gantt Scholars and donors honored

In 1963, when Harvey Gantt entered Clemson, he was the first African-American to do so. Twenty-five years later, the Clemson Black Alumni Council (CBAC) established a scholarship to honor him and to recruit and retain African-American students, with special preference to South Carolina residents and entering freshmen.

This spring, donors to the Harvey B. Gantt Scholarship Endowment Fund gathered with the past and present recipients of their generosity to celebrate progress made and lives affected.

“We are better and stronger because of a young African-American man from Charleston who would not give up on his dream of studying architecture here at Clemson,” said President Jim Clements. He went on to say that Clemson is also a better institution because of the Gantt Scholars. “You are among the best and brightest students in the nation, and we are proud of you and your achievements. Your presence on campus — and your leadership and accomplishments both in and out of the classroom — have made us a better institution.”

Clements went on to thank the CBAC for supporting the scholarship, noting that their “commitment has opened the door for generations of students to attend Clemson.”

View a video of the Gantt Scholars reception:

Students flex fiscal muscles to win national competition

InTheseHills-Raymond-SauerA proposal by economics students on how to stabilize the nation’s debt-to-gross-domestic-product ratio won first place at the national collegiate Fiscal Challenge on Capitol Hill this spring. The Fiscal Challenge is a competition among college teams to create a plan putting the U.S. on a sustainable fiscal path.

“Our team put a tremendous amount of work into developing their budget proposal,” said Raymond “Skip” Sauer, the John E. Walker Department of Economics chair and team adviser. “They’ve been meeting three days a week since January and the collaboration of all five of them gave them the ability to attack the budget challenge on all possible fronts. What they did on Capitol Hill was impressive and very hard to replicate in a classroom.”

Judging was conducted by a group of four federal budget experts associated with major Washington think tanks and government organizations. Mike Aguilar, national coordinator, said the winning proposal “struck a nice balance between spending cuts and tax increases. One thing that set Clemson apart was their advocacy of supply-side changes to stimulate growth and their support for structural reforms to the budget process itself.”

Bradleys invest in imagination and inquiry

Forever-BradleyEach year, more than 4,000 Clemson undergraduate students enjoy exercising their imaginations through a unique, faculty-led research program because of Phil and Mary Bradley’s generosity.

Phil’s father, William F. Bradley, was a veteran student at Clemson College in the late 1930s and finished his degree in 1952 after a long leave of absence. Throughout his childhood, Phil had his heart set on Clemson and much to his satisfaction, enrolled here after high school. After his sophomore year, Phil married his high school sweetheart, Mary, and before he graduated in 1965, they had begun their own family with daughter, Renee.

Clemson’s hills are full of memories for the Charleston natives, and today they enjoy giving back to the place that gave so much to them.

It began in 2005 when Phil and Mary met with former provost Dori Helms to learn more about her vision for a new undergraduate research program called Creative Inquiry. The Bradleys also were introduced to a few of Helms’ students and took note of what they were accomplishing in their studies. To say they were impressed would be an understatement.

“Some students were starting businesses and even had patents and copyrights. It was a real eye-opener for me,” Phil said.

The Bradleys stepped up and assisted with funding the program through annual support for five years. “I really wanted to help a program that needed financial support, and there’s been unbelievable growth,” he said. The program’s growth as well as the Bradley’s continued appreciation for the students led them to provide the first major gift for the Creative Inquiry Enhancement Fund.

However, it wasn’t just the students who made an impact on the Bradleys. They also took note of how passionate the faculty members were about the students’ success and felt these mentors deserved recognition. This inspired the Bradleys to establish the Phil and Mary Bradley Award for Mentoring in Creative Inquiry — a generous award presented to a faculty member in recognition of outstanding work with undergraduate students.

Clemson traditions were engrained in the Bradley’s children, Philip and Renee, at a very young age. They are now proud alumni and have passed on their love for Clemson to their very own families. The family’s shared love for Clemson encouraged Phil and Mary to become more involved on campus. Phil was elected to the Board of Visitors in 2006 and is also a proud member of the Clemson Foundation. “This gave me the opportunity to see the needs of Clemson University and how we go about meeting those needs. It’s gotten me more involved in not just the support of athletics but what’s happening on campus and how we can further those goals,” he said.

The Bradleys are a “One Clemson” family, supporting both athletics and academics, and believe that seeing the outcomes has made a big difference in their lives. Phil and Mary often talk to one another about their relationship with Clemson and always agree that it is money well spent. “There is nothing like the satisfaction of knowing that you have made a difference in the life of a Clemson student,” Phil said.

When Phil is presented with the opportunity to talk to someone about investing in Clemson, he always says, “Do not hesitate. Do not wait. It doesn’t matter how small. I use the philosophy that if you’re a Clemson alum, you learned, you earned and now you need to return. You need to return and give something back to Clemson. I think Creative Inquiry is a great program you can start with.”

“There is nothing like the satisfaction of knowing that you have made a difference in the life of a Clemson student.”

Headed off to New Challenges and Opportunities

In May, almost 3,000 Clemson students received bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees at Littlejohn Coliseum and joined the ranks of 137,000 alumni.

President Clements voiced his hope that the graduates’ time at Clemson helped make them better all-around people.

“I hope that your Clemson experience has been everything that you hoped it would be and that we taught you more than your academic subjects,” he said. “I hope that we challenged you and inspired you to think critically and creatively, to be engaged with your community and your world, and to make a positive difference every day.”

Here are the stories of just six of those graduates:

Alyssa Daniel

InTheseHills-Alyssa-DanielAlyssa Daniel makes you believe that there are more than 24 hours in a day. During her four years at Clemson, the accounting major has crunched an unbelievable number of leadership roles and experiences into her time as a student. But at the heart of her super-human schedule is a very human factor — family.

“I have a younger brother and a younger sister here at Clemson, and setting a good example for them is super important to me,” Daniel said.

Daniel said she owes a lot to her involvement with the professional business fraternity, Delta Sigma Pi, where she has served in multiple executive positions. It was also at the encouragement of Delta Sigma Pi that Daniel was prompted to take on her biggest challenge — spending a semester abroad at Aarhus University in Denmark.

“I always think I can throw something extra on my plate,” Daniel jokes.

Daniel also was involved with Beta Alpha Psi, an international honors organization for financial information students, served on the Student Advisory Board for the School of Accountancy and Finance and worked as a student assistant in the Office of Student Enrichment.

“I think that Clemson has a thousand things to offer you, and that it’s just a matter of pursuing them,” Daniel said. “It’s important to surround yourself with people who are just as academically motivated as you.”

This summer Daniel will complete a second internship with the Charlotte consulting firm Deloitte, before moving to Alabama to work on her master’s in accounting at Auburn University.

Nate Diehl

InTheseHills-Nate-DiehlEven before he arrived at Clemson, Nate Diehl had delved heavily into research at the University of Pennsylvania where he spent the three summers during high school immersed in cancer-related protein research. As a Clemson undergraduate, the biochemistry major continued to explore the medical field with both his undergraduate research and through two summer medical trips to Panama and Costa Rica.

“Those trips were confirmation that I was doing the right thing,” Diehl said. “Seeing the look on people’s faces after you helped with even just the smallest thing gave me an incredible amount of joy.”

Wanting to combine his love of research, medicine and people, Diehl applied for M.D./Ph.D. programs. Programs from across the nation flocked to accept him — eight in all. Diehl says the deciding factor came down to the students.

“I knew that I could become a physician scientist in any of these amazing programs,” Diehl said, “But the Chapel Hill students were incredible to be around. They seemed very similar to the people at Clemson, and the people were one of the best parts of Clemson for me. The students here have made my experience. They’re absolutely awesome; I’ll never forget them.”

Diehl plans to continue his cancer research throughout his program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with the eventual goal of becoming a pediatric oncologist.

Nateisha Drayton

InTheseHills-Nateisha-DraytonIf you’d asked Nateisha Drayton five years ago where she would be today, she would have said she’d be a proud member of the military, rising through the ranks, seeing new parts of the world.

She has traveled. But instead of being in a uniform, she’s been in a lab coat.

“College was just never an option that I’d thought about,” the Charleston native said. “I’d thought that I would join the military like so many of my family members before me. I didn’t know the first thing about filling out an application or the Free Application for Financial Student Aid paperwork.”

At the encouragement of her high school teachers however, Drayton took her first (and last) college tour at Clemson.

“I knew it was the right place for me. I didn’t need to look anywhere else,” Drayton said.

The first-generation college student has forged her own path through Clemson while also lending her hand as a PEER (Programs for Educational Enrichment and Retention) mentor for the past two years. PEER welcomes and encourages underrepresented students in the College of Engineering and Science.

“My own PEER mentor did so much for me. If it hadn’t been for him that first semester, I don’t know if I would have made it through,” Drayton said. “I wanted to give back to the same program that was in fact the main reason I was still here in the first place.”

Drayton also has completed three research projects — one at Clemson, the other at Rutgers and the third in Singapore — all centered on the environmental impacts of cancer research compounds in addition to other contaminants and their biodegradability.

Drayton heads into the Air Force’s Officer Training School where she will serve in an environmental engineering position.

Neyle Noyes

InTheseHills-Neyle-NoyesNeyle Noyes doesn’t pull out job acceptance letters to talk about the future. He pulls out a handwritten bucket list that he keeps in his wallet. His dreams include graduating, skydiving, watching “Phantom of the Opera” on Broadway and dancing in the rain.

He talks about these because he feels confident about life after graduation — he’s anticipating a job with the NBA once its season ends.

He got hooked on the organizational side of athletics after taking a “Trends and Sports” class, which examined sports through data analysis. Later, he connected with a prospective student’s father while giving a campus tour, a chance meeting that led to an internship with the Houston Astros minor league team in Greeneville, Tennessee.

But it was his senior project analyzing NBA trends that really captured his attention. He wants to take number crunching to basketball. For those unfamiliar with sport statistics, he’ll be doing what Brad Pitt did for baseball in “Moneyball.”

“I’ll be changing the game, but not the heart behind it,” Noyes said. Having heart has always been important for Noyes. He says the high-fives, hellos and student passion he saw on his own prospective tour of Clemson clinched his college decision.

“At Clemson, we build and breathe the idea of getting close and taking time to know each other,” Noyes said. Ever since, he’s added to that tradition with his own big smile as a campus tour guide and sharing life with his Kappa Sigma brothers on the quad.

He knows he’ll miss Clemson, but, according to his bucket list, he’ll hopefully have tickets to one football game a season.

James E. Vines

HEHD Spring Research Forum 4-19-12James Vines first learned about the small number of male minorities earning Ph.D.’s while getting his Africa and African Diaspora studies certificate at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

“It was at that moment that I knew I wanted to help improve those numbers,” Vines said.

To do that required his own navigation of graduate school waters, which is how he docked at Clemson.

“I heard about the outstanding reputation of the School of Education. Clemson was at the top of my list,” Vines said. While getting his doctorate here, he worked as a research assistant for the Charles H. Houston Center for the Study of the Black Experience in Education.

“I had no idea what to research for my dissertation. Thankfully, I had an amazing adviser, Dr. Patricia First, who helped me from day one,” Vines said.

His research includes cyberbullying, focusing on advocacy coalitions in the policy-development process. This fall, he has moved on to a fellowship at Bloomsburg University (Pennsylvania), where he’ll be an academic adviser in the Office of Academic Enrichment.

“I’ll miss being able to find my quiet spot in the Cooper Library — I have gotten so much stuff done while writing and getting coffee in Java City,” Vines said.

But he says that more than finding a quiet space, building strong connections with his professors, classmates and Phi Beta Sigma brothers contributed to his positive Clemson experience.

“The support you get from other students is invaluable, and people who can motivate you will go a long way,” Vines said.

Aurelia Wurzel

InTheseHills-Aurelia-WurzelTired of sitting on the bench for basketball, Wurzel needed little prompting to follow her older sister to the boathouse one day. And that was that.

“I was short, I was on the bench and that wasn’t working,” Wurzel said. “Then my sister brought me with her to the boathouse, put me in a double with her, and I’ve been rowing ever since. It just clicked.”

Years later, Wurzel’s passion for the sport was responsible for bringing her halfway around the world, from her hometown of Como, Italy, to her new home in Clemson when she was recruited for the women’s varsity rowing team.

“Coming to Clemson allowed me to pursue the two things that I was really passionate about — sports and academics,” Wurzel said.

Most of Wurzel’s mornings these past four years have been spent on Hartwell Lake as a member of the women’s rowing team. For two months each summer, she returned to Como to compete in the national championship, winning seven national titles, and even rowed in the world championship for Italy.

Born in Frankfurt, Germany, Wurzel moved to Como when she was six where she spent the rest of her childhood before coming to South Carolina. During high school, Wurzel was enrolled in the language program where she gained fluency in Spanish, French and English. When it came time to choose a major at Clemson, language and international trade was an obvious fit.

Her skills were put to the test during a summer internship with the candy manufacturer, Haribo. The company was working on a business-to-business product that Wurzel was able to help create through a variety of marketing, advertising and logistics measures.

Excited by this taste of the business world, Wurzel will go on to work in Switzerland this fall.

See a video of graduation in less than a minute:

Engineered for Success: Tony Elliott ’02

Profile-Smith-Elliott
Fans of Clemson Tigers football may recognize Tony Elliott. You’ll find him alongside Dabo Swinney on Saturdays in the fall, figuring out how to penetrate defenses and move the ball across the goal line.

Elliott serves as co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach, but his connection to the university runs all the way back to his days as a player and student in the College of Engineering and Science.

While playing wide receiver for the Tigers, Elliott managed a rare feat. He excelled in one of higher education’s most demanding sports and one of its most rigorous academic programs.

Elliott graduated with a degree in industrial engineering in 2002 with a team-high 3.55 GPA. He lettered four times, finishing with 34 receptions for 455 yards and two scores. A survey of Clemson players conducted by the Anderson Independent Mail in his senior year found that he was the team’s “most respected player.”

After graduation, Elliott worked for Michelin North America for two years. He later returned to coaching at South Carolina State and Furman University before coming home to Clemson.

Industrial engineering is a natural fit for football. Students learn to look at entire systems and processes involved, which are key skills on the field.

Cole Smith, the chair of the Department of Industrial Engineering, recently sat down with Elliott on the 50-yard line of Memorial Stadium to learn more about his formula for success.

The excerpts have been edited for brevity.

Smith: How did you manage being in one of the most difficult academic programs, while balancing time for one of its most demanding teams?

Elliott: First and foremost, I had tremendous support. I had tremendous support from the football side. Obviously, Vickery Hall provides resources to stay up to speed in the classroom. But then I also had great support from the industrial engineering department and the student body as well. You have to manage a lot. There are a lot of sacrifices that have to be made. When your buddies are going out and hanging out on a Thursday night and a Friday night, you’re in the library.

Smith: You had some good mentorship as a student but also professionally. How has that played a role growing up, and what would you recommend for other students currently in the program to look for in a mentor or mentoring program?

Elliott: Just as in football, in life you can’t do it by yourself. You’ve got to have people that you’re connected to who can help you through the tough times, who can give you advice to help you prepare for the future. The advice that I would give to students in the program now is surround yourself with other students within the program who are likeminded, who understand the importance of teamwork. That’s how I survived industrial engineering. If you want to be successful, we tell our guys all the time, ‘Sit in front of the class. Create a relationship with the professor and engage so that you can build that relationship.’ If you come upon a tough time, you’ll have somebody in your corner to help you.

Smith: So you never got to the point where you thought, ‘I’ve got to give up one or the other?’

Elliott: There were plenty of days when I thought, ‘Man, what am I doing?’ But my journey to get to Clemson was a little bit different, a little bit unique. I started at the Air Force Academy to play football, and then I decided to come Clemson and (at first) not play football. So when I decided to play football at Clemson, it put it in perspective. I understood that it was a privilege and that it was secondary to my education.

Smith: What lesson from industrial engineering sticks with you the most?

Elliott: The thing I learned from industrial engineering that I take every day is just the engineering, methodical thought process (that goes into) preparation. Football is all about preparation. I think a lot of people come in and they see me on Saturdays, but there are a lot of hours that go into preparing for Saturday. You just make sure you’re being effective and efficient with your time, that you have a strategy in place. And the strategy is going to change week to week.

Smith: You must be seeing a huge amount of increased attention on data and analytics and decision-making. How much have you seen that come in, especially in the use of technology, in college football?

Elliott: It’s changed tremendously. There are a lot of firms and companies that have come into play. They’re taking that data and using an engineering perspective to really, really break it down and make it detailed. And it helps us tremendously. You really want to be efficient and effective in your preparation, and now there are services that have created programs to where that information is automatically calculated.

Smith: How much of your success is due to talent, and how much is due to persistence and hard work?

Elliott: I’d like to say that I’ve been very blessed from an academic standpoint. Things, especially in the math world, early on came easy to me. But I would say it’s more hard work and, again, relationships with individuals who could help me along the way when I didn’t understand something. They could put it in a format that I could understand. So I think there is talent, but I would say that hard work will outwork talent. We tell guys all the time talent is one thing, but it’s the hard work and determination that takes that talent to the next level. We all have a certain amount of natural talent, but you can elevate your natural talent to a higher platform if you put that hard work and dedication to it.

Smith: So we’ve established that there’s nothing that you can’t do. Give us something surprising that you can do that people don’t about.

Elliott: I don’t know if it’s surprising, but I like to snowboard. I don’t have a whole lot of time, so I’m not very good at it. But I do enjoy snowboarding. There are several things I have to work at. But, ultimately, I think if you put your mind to it and you’re dedicated to putting in the hard work that you’ll be successful.

The View from Sikes: Preparing for What Comes Next

PrezClementsVFSikesA new academic year always brings a sense of renewed optimism and anticipation for what comes next. Preparing for what comes next is — after all — the essence of what universities do. Asking questions, experimenting, creating, debating and thinking deeply and critically — these are essential tools for equipping students to succeed during and after college. They also are tools for finding solutions to the great challenges of our time and for discovering innovations that drive economic growth.

It’s easy to be optimistic when we consider the accomplishments of the year just completed:

• Achieving a Top 20 national ranking from U.S.News & World Report and a seventh consecutive Top 25 ranking.
• Setting new records in demand for enrollment and quality of the student body.
• Reaching record levels in private fundraising.
• Earning national rankings for quality, value, return on tuition investment, town-gown relations and the No. 1 ranked alumni network.
• Securing additional state support for critical educational, economic development and public service programs and facilities.
• Opening our first off-campus visitors center — Experience Clemson — in downtown Greenville.
• Tackling the largest construction program in University history to address facilities needs and take advantage of a competitive external market, low interest rates and the University’s strong debt capacity.

Our strategic plan — 2020Forward — is a key part of preparing Clemson University for what comes next. In July, the board of trustees gave preliminary approval to the key concepts in the strategic plan and charged the administration to return this fall with a final plan for review.

Included among those key concepts are the following priorities:

• Providing high-impact engagement opportunities to students as a cornerstone of undergraduate education.
• Growing research and doctoral enrollment, with emphasis on programs and research focus areas where we can achieve national prominence, and an organizational structure that supports excellence.
• Making Clemson an exceptional place to work.
• Increasing our commitment to diversity and inclusiveness.

The plan also retains many of the strategic priorities of the 2020 Road Map — including a sustained Top 20 national ranking, an aggressive capital improvement plan and commitment to outreach and economic progress for South Carolina.

In order to achieve these goals, we must create a climate where every person feels valued and has the ability to succeed. The need for a more diverse and inclusive campus emerged as a consistent message from the strategic planning team. Based on that work and the dozens of meetings we held with faculty, staff, students and alumni in the spring, we have framed a plan for diversity and excellence that has the following four pillars:

• First, develop and implement a strategic plan to increase the diversity of the student body, staff, faculty and administration, with measurable goals.
• Second, promote greater cultural awareness and a sense of community, which is the focus of several initiatives launched last spring, such as the monthly student dialogue lunches and a planned lecture series.
• Third, assess and enhance the effectiveness of existing diversity initiatives and support services. As part of this effort, we will move the Gantt Multicultural Center from Student Affairs to the Office of Diversity — to enhance coordination and better leverage the expertise and resources of each unit.
• Fourth, document and communicate the history of Clemson, including the role of under-represented groups. We have initiated a process with state authorities to add a series of markers to campus to help document additional parts of our history.

These efforts will be enhanced by the board’s recent action to adopt a resolution and appoint a task force to explore ways to accurately preserve and tell the complete history of Clemson, which includes opening a discussion on Benjamin Tillman. I applaud the board for their action, and I look forward to assisting the task force with their work.  Evaluating, discussing, critiquing and debating important issues are what great universities do to arrive at the best solutions. Understanding and communicating the full story of Clemson’s history is an important part of creating a more inclusive and welcoming campus environment.

So what’s next for Clemson in 2015-16?

• Enrolling another outstanding class of students.
• Launching a new strategic plan by January 1, 2016.
• Successfully completing the Will to Lead for Clemson capital campaign, which will make Clemson the first public university with an alumni base our size to surpass a $1 billion campaign goal.
• Opening new academic and athletic facilities on campus, as well as additions to the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research campus in Greenville and the Zucker Family Graduation Education Center in North Charleston — with more groundbreakings to come.

What comes next — is another great year to be a Clemson Tiger!

Go Tigers!

Blame it on the Parkinson’s: Mitch Faile ’89

Profile-Mitch-FaileFive years ago, at the age of 44, Mitch Faile was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. For this corporate executive, entrepreneur and father, it was a devastating diagnosis. And it’s been a diagnosis that has changed his life in many ways. But it’s one he has met with humor and determination … and a bit of country music.

Faile says that his symptoms are most difficult in the morning, sometimes making him feel as if he is back in college and suffering from a hangover. In an interview with the Johns Creek Herald, he said that he “made a game each morning out of listing all the vices I did not engage in the night before that might cause a hangover. Before I knew it, I was singing the list and giggling to myself, and the chorus seemed to write itself in the shower.

“As I recorded the song, it became my coping mechanism; a personal anthem which invoked a laugh or smile with family and friends as we dealt with symptoms at home,” he said. “When I would bounce off a wall, break a glass, drop food on the floor, forget to do something or just slip off and take a nap, everyone would jokingly shake their head and say, ‘Blame it on the Parkinson’s!’”

With the help of Wilkin’s Parkinson Foundation and Atlanta’s Octagon Studios, Faile recorded and released the song and music video of “Blame it on the Parkinson’s” to raise awareness of the disease and funds for researching a cure. The ending scene of the video was recorded after the 2015 spring football game with students, fans and members of Clemson’s Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity.

“I realize I can’t change having Parkinson’s. I can’t hide having it, and I can’t control what people are thinking when they look at me …. What I can do is be thankful for the many blessings I have been given and wake up each day determined to live life to the fullest of my abilities and enjoy the people I care about, because I know time is fleeting,” he said. “In that way, Parkinson’s has been a blessing to me.”

Click here for more information about the Wilkins Parkinson’s Foundation.