Life didn't deal Al Felix very good cards.
Yet he always acted like he was holding a full house.
Never mind that Felix was born with cerebral palsy. He still didn't consider himself handicapped. He didn't want anyone else to treat him that way, either.
That's the background on why Felix is probably the best known manager in the history of Marshall University football. He joined the program in 2008, but really hit his stride in 2010.
That's when Doc Holliday became head coach. The timing isn't coincidental. Sometimes Doc likes to hide his big heart, but this wasn't one of those times. When Holliday met Felix, it was admiration at first sight.
"What a great kid and great story that is," said Holliday. "He was a manager here for four years. The kid never had a bad day. He came to work every day with a smile on his face. You'd see him in the snow ... he was going to be here regardless."
Then Doc paused to get his emotions under control.
"It's hard," he said before continuing. "He always wanted to play football. He was on me every year because he always wanted to dress for a game. Finally, the East Carolina game in 2011 that we had to win to go to a bowl game, he dressed for that game."
It was perfect. It was Senior Day, so Felix suited up in No. 24 and was honored as one of Marshall's 16 seniors.
"Then, after we won the game (34-27)," said Holliday, "the kids carried him off the field. As a coach, there are a lot of great things that happen in your life. But that was probably the most special thing, to me, that ever happened to that kid ... because nobody deserved it more than he did."
He wasn't done, either. Felix also dressed for Marshall's 20-10 victory over FIU in the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl in Tampa, Florida.
"You talk about a kid that overcame so much adversity," continued Holliday. "We talk all the time about overcoming adversity. He was a great example for our kids. He'd show up and if our kids thought they were having a bad day, all they had to do was look at Al.
"He was out there ... an unbelievable kid just riding around in his scooter. He took care of the players. He helped that football team as much as anybody because he set such a great example for our players, as far as attitude and overcoming adversity."
Felix still is overcoming obstacles, but now he needs some help as he nears his 29th birthday in Vero Beach, Florida. Medicare paid for a medical scooter, but didn't pay for a lift to get the nearly 100-pound scooter into Felix's vehicle.
So, Felix has set up a GoFundMe account with a goal of $5,500 that has raised $2,415 so far. Donations can be made at https://www.gofundme.com/1povs17x6o.
"I'm sure going to donate to it," said Holliday. "I guarantee that. He was a special kid that I never will forget. His picture hangs right behind my desk. I see it every day. It's our players holding him up and carrying him off the field. That was the greatest thing, not only for him, but for me as well. It's something I'll always remember.
"The wins and losses ... the wins are important and the losses hurt you, but to see something like that happen for somebody who deserves it so much. He's a Marshall grad and he fought for everything he ever got. It's just a great story."
Now, Al Felix needs help with the next chapter.
Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.