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Razorback superfan's doctors surprise him with tickets to his first ever game

Johnny Roberts was given the gift of his dreams thanks to his team of radiology techs at Baptist Health Fort Smith.

FORT SMITH, Ark. — As fans found their seats at Bud Walton Arena on the evening of Tuesday, Dec. 6 one man was in the crowd seeing the Razorback men's basketball team for the very first time.

Johnny Roberts has struggled with underlying kidney and liver issues for years. He visits Baptist Health Fort Smith for weekly procedures to help his quality of life.

During these procedures, Roberts talks to the team—turned family—in charge of his needs, with the conversation typically turning towards his love for everything Razorback.

"It's always been his love of sports," says Interventional Radiology (IVR) Tech, Brandon Stubblefield. "Every week when he comes in, you know, see how he's doing, how he's feeling, that kind of thing, and then you always wind up talking about the Razorbacks. Whether it's football or basketball, he's always been a huge fan."

However, with all the talk about his favorite sports, Roberts recently told his team that he had never been to a game in person... any Razorback game.

"When he told us that, we were like, 'what?! What do you mean?'" laughed IVR Tech Kaitlyn Smith. "Holy smokes, he's such a big fan, and he hasn't even gotten to experience it."

With the knowledge that their favorite Razorback fan had never gone to a game, the team of technicians and his doctor went to work. Once schedules were aligned, a game was chosen, and the team pitched in their own money to purchase new Razorback gear and tickets for them to take Roberts to 'The Hill'.

"We just wanted to take him so badly! We got super pumped. We had to call the nursing home and ask for permission, but we were like, 'nope, you don't get a choice, we're taking him'."

When the night arrived, the team loaded up and surprised Roberts at his nursing home.

"I had to hit myself, to shake myself to see if this was real or not," said Roberts. "Nobody's ever done nothing for me like that."

As the Razorbacks battled the Spartans of the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, the Hogs found themselves facing an uphill battle.

"I was so afraid that they were going to lose and mess my whole night up," joked Roberts.

But as the final buzzer sounded, a comeback win for the good guys had Roberts full of smiles and a heart full of appreciation for his family at Baptist Health Fort Smith.

"This is not like going to a regular doctor for me. This is like my team," said Roberts. "I really appreciate what they did. I won't ever forget them and what they did for me."

Now ten days later, Roberts still is in disbelief of his dream come true. He says the night ranks "right there at the top, I will never forget this."

But the night was not quite over for Roberts.

Smith made some calls once the plan was set into motion—eventually, the surprise reached former Arkansas Football head coach, Houston Nutt. On the ride back to Fort Smith, Nutt called Roberts for one last surprise.

Roberts said he could not believe it but then fell right in step talking shop with the old ball coach, ending the conversation not just as a Razorback super fan, but a friend of a man he watched on the sidelines through a screen.

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