ORANGE PARK, Fla. -- Jack Wilkening is a huge Jacksonville Jaguars and Florida State Seminoles fan, which is why he was a bit dazed on Wednesday morning when he saw who walked into his third-grade classroom at Paterson Elementary School.
First it was Jaguars mascot Jaxson De Ville followed by linebacker Telvin Smith, a former FSU standout who just finished his rookie season with the Jaguars. They were there to surprise 8-year-old Jack and his 7-year-old sister Kate, who had lost their home to a fire on Feb. 1.
Smith gave the two autographed hats and footballs and spent about 20 minutes with them and the rest of the students in the classroom, joking around, taking pictures, and getting and receiving hugs.
"I was a little nervous," Smith said. "I've never been in that situation, never had my whole house taken away, and you didn't know what to say. You want to be respectful and let them know you're praying for them."
Fortunately the Wilkening family wasn't home when their home caught fire on Super Bowl Sunday. Pam Wilkening, Jack and Kate's mom, said the house was a total loss.
"Luckily we weren't home," Pam Wilkening said. "They [the children] haven't been back to the house but they've seen pictures of it."
Among the items destroyed were two of Jack's favorite things: a Jaxson De Ville autographed football and a Florida State baseball hat. Jaxson signed a football and brought other gifts for the kids and the classroom. Smith delivered an autographed hat.
"He just said, 'Thank you. Thank you for everything,'" Smith said. "It was just a humbling experience."