Riceboro native Richard LeCounte may seem all tough, but the University of Georgia senior football player is known for having a soft heart for others. This week LeCounte is expected to make a visit to one of his biggest fans who is going through a difficult time.
Destiny Maney is only 10 but has already been met with a few hurdles in life. This week Maney is set to travel to Emory Children’s Hospital in Atlanta for open heart surgery Friday.
“The surgery was not expected,” Mom Ashley Maney said. “Destiny was born with two holes in her heart. One closed by the time she was six months old and the second kept decreasing in size. There was tissue that was supposed to close it up.”
Ashley Maney said her parents Sid and Heather Griffin were with her when they took Destiny for her annual heart exam this past April. Memorial Health physician Dr. Pastorek informed the family that, at this point, surgery was required.
Despite troubled times young Destiny gets some joy watching football with her parents. Turns out the 10-year-old is a huge Bulldogs fan, like Mom and her Dad Jeremy Maney.
“And she became a fan of Richard (LeCounte) a couple years ago when we would watch the games and always root for the plays he played in,” Mom said. “Ever since then she tells us that’s her favorite Georgia Player.”
Maney reached out to Richard’s mother Erika LeCounte.
“Just to let her know she was a fan,” Maney said.
Maney said they shared stories and talked off and on. About a month ago, Destiny received a real treat when the senior football player surprised her with a Face Time call.
“She was the happiest person alive,” Mom said.
LeCounte’s mother said her son wanted to support Destiny during her ordeal. She said he organized a visit to see destiny tomorrow at the hospital during her pre-operation admissions. Destiny’s surgery is on Friday.
“He originally planned to meet her in person for G-Day,” Erika LeCounte said. “Due to the pandemic though, the game was canceled.”
She said Richard’s daily schedule is hectic but the pandemic has also taught him to focus on other areas of life besides football.
“Out of the many letters and requests that make it to him or his parents’ mailbox, this one (from Destiny) connected on a much deeper level,” she said. “She is from his hometown, and everyone knows how big Richard is about involving himself in his community. Destiny is around the same age as his nieces, and she is a lot like them in many ways. They enjoy having fun with Tik Tok videos.”
LeCounte said Richard and Destiny love to dance.
“So, they plan to do a Tik Tok video dancing after formally meeting one another,” she said.
She said Richard will be dropping off some surprise gifts during his visit. She added that she is extremely proud of her son.
“He has reached a point in his life that his father and I can now say that the young kid that left his hometown for college, has now matured into adulthood, and has become the man we have prayed for,” LeCounte said.
“This has been a big ray of sunshine in this time and we are so grateful and thankful for the LeCounte family for making my daughter’s wish a reality,” Maney said.
Mom, Grandma and Grandpa Griffin, Destiny’s brother Connor, and Grandmother Paulette are making the trip to Atlanta to support Destiny and be by her side.
Dad, who is a bit overwhelmed and nervous will be home, providing updates to the family during her procedure and recovery.
Erika LeCounte said the family deserves a bit of happiness during this difficult situation and needs the community’s support.
“The family is in need of support to pay for meals, hotel stay and travel expenses, LeCounte said.
The family has set up a Go Fund Me account for Destiny here: https://gf.me/u/x3ki9m