Khalid Kareem's sweet suprise for fan Griffin Sotok
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- Notre Dame defensive end Khalid Kareem is one of the most intimidating players on the field. While he's been making big plays for the Irish, he has an even bigger heart. What started out as a nice surprise for an Irish fan has turned into a hit on social media.
The post has gotten more than 2,000 likes and nearly 300 retweets.
Griffin Sotok is 22 years old. Despite the challenges he's faced with Down syndrome, Griffin is taking classes and he's an avid swimmer.
He's even the manager of the Hope College Swim Team in his hometown of Holland, Michigan.
His dad, Jeff, earned his master's degree in business from Notre Dame and has been taking Griffin to games his entire life.
"I would say that Griffin is addicted to Notre Dame football. I think it started at that first game he went to back into 2011," Jeff said. "I've taken all of our kids, we have three kids to Notre Dame football games but by far Griffin has attended the most games. Probably well over 20 games."
Through a mutual family friend, Kareem's dad, Ken, set up a meet and greet with Griffin after the Pitt game.
"He was just talking about how I had a great game, he loves watching me play. I'm one of his favorites. We were talking about each other's shoes. He had some gold shoes and they were really cool. Yeah, I liked them," Kareem said.
"Something as little as coming out and meeting somebody that will be a memory forever for Griffin," Lee Ann Sotok, Griffin's mom, said.
After that meeting, Kareem wanted to do more.
"I felt bad, I didn't have anything to give him," Kareem said.
Two weeks later, Kareem saved the gloves and arm sleeve he wore in the Northwestern game, autographed them and had his dad get them to the Sotoks.
That special moment was captured and shared on social media.
"We never saw that coming," Jeff said.
"It's sort of surreal. My friends called me, they said he's trending. I'm like of course Griffin is trending because that's what Griffin does, right?" Lee Ann said.
"It kind of warmed my heart because I was laying down at night. I saw a notification on my phone and saw I was tagged in something and like I said it warmed my heart, it was special and to see he has a shadow box and I think it's next to his bed or something. That's huge that I can make that kind of impact on someone," Kareem said.
It was a small gesture that's had a big impact.
"On the field you won't mess with him but in person he just has a very generous heart," Lee Ann said. "This is more than a football game. It's more than winning or losing. It's playing the game with integrity and just inspiring others and being there for others."
An impact not only on Griffin and his family, but on Kareem as well.
"It's a glove. And you never know the kind of impact you can have on someone. And me doing that is just honestly, me taking a step as a person, you know, just doing something good for someone else without thinking of what I'm going to get back from it, what I'm going to receive. And his happiness, it's all that I need, really," Kareem said.
Kareem said football isn't the only thing he and Griffin have in common. They are both swimmers.