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By Jack Smith
Roby and Bernis Simmons won the Eagle Flight Experience.
Auburn University student Sarah Lambert received a unique present for her 21st birthday.
Her father, Alan, was the winner of an AU Athletics online auction for the "Smoke Entrance Experience" at Jordan-Hare Stadium. As the auction winners, they got to help staff members spray the smoke in the tunnel as the Auburn Tigers came out to the roar of 87,000 fans.
"It was the best birthday present I've ever had," Sarah Lambert said. "It was very loud. People were cheering, and when we started spraying the smoke I couldn't see anything, but I could feel the rush of the players coming by. It was awesome."
Alan Lambert, a long-time season ticket holder, said he has been on the field before--but not with a stadium full of screaming fans.
"It was just an awesome experience," Alan Lambert said. "The actual smoke activity was only a small part of the overall experience."
The Lamberts toured the locker room, watched the team file in from Tiger Walk and soaked up all of the pre-game festivities on the field.
"It was definitely worth the money," Alan said. "It was my daughter's 21st birthday present and she told me that it was the best present she has ever received. She had a permanent smile on her face for the entire experience, which was priceless to me."
The "Smoke Experience" is just one of three gameday experiences auctioned off by the Auburn Athletics Marketing Department. Fans can also bid on a "Kicking Tee Retriever" Experience (as long as the participants are not in grades 7-12 due to NCAA rules) as well as the "Eagle Flight Experience."
Roby and Bernis Simmons won the Eagle Flight Experience for the Florida game. The obvious highlight was watching Nova's majestic flight from the upper deck down to the 50 yard-line from field level.
"Being on the field and watching Nova come down as the crowd cheered was amazing," Roby said. "It's hard to explain."
They Simmons got more than a field level view of the eagle landing on the turf of Pat Dye Field. They took in a VIP tour of the Southeastern Raptor Center, watched as the Raptor Center eagle handlers prepared both Nova and Spirit for the trip to the stadium and toured the locker room. They were even on the field for kick-off.
"It was absolutely incredible," Roby said.
Half of the proceeds raised from the Eagle Flight Experience go to the Southeastern Raptor Center.