Clemson superfan Jane Duckworth HA ’16 woke up on February 21, 2023, excited to go to a softball game and watch Clemson beat the University of Georgia. But what she didn’t know was that day would become eventful for other reasons.
Duckworth had lost her beloved husband, Ed Duckworth ’61, just a year earlier and was still adjusting to life without him. She and Ed attended many Clemson sporting events throughout the years and led the charge in building the Duckworth Family Tennis Facility. Ed had also served on the board of the Clemson University Foundation and the Board of Visitors and was a leadership member of the Will to Lead Capital Campaign.
As she was walking into McWhorter Stadium on that February day, Duckworth turned her head to say hello to a friend, lost her balance and took a hard fall. In what all involved characterize as a miraculous moment, Duckworth was kept from hitting her head on the concrete because two students behind her managed to catch her and break the fall.
She broke her hip and leg but said things could have been much worse if she had hit her head. “I felt arms reaching out to hold me up,” Duckworth recalled. “I didn’t know who it was and never saw their faces, but these girls held me until EMS arrived.”
Makenzie Lumley and Kadence Outz — then first-year nursing students — said they were in the right place at the right time. “I believe God placed us there for a reason,” Lumley said.
According to Outz, she and Lumley had decided to go to the game at the last minute. “We were so glad we were there,” Outz said. “Because of all of the traffic with a baseball game going on at the same time, EMS had a hard time getting to Mrs. Duckworth.” Beth Clements, wife of University President Jim Clements, had arrived to attend the game right after the fall, and she coordinated with EMS while Lumley and Outz held Duckworth and tried to keep the weight off her hip.
Duckworth recalled, “Those girls distracted me from the pain.” The students asked about her family and “just anything we could think of to keep Mrs. Duckworth talking to us,” Lumley said. “I thought of my own great-grandmother, Nanny, and how I would want people to take care of her.”
“These girls are such a bright light and a shining example of what it means to be good people,” Duckworth said with a smile. “They didn’t know me from Adam yet jumped right in to help me, stayed with me and even followed up with Beth Clements in the days afterward to see if I needed anything during my recovery. Now if that’s not what it means to be community and family to each other, I don’t know what is.”
Lumley echoed that sentiment: “The Clemson Family is one of the main reasons I wanted to come here. Helping each other is what family does.”