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'Specialist Christmas': UM's Allen spends bowl gift card on Mott kids

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Kenny Allen

Orlando, Fla. — Michigan kicker Kenny Allen is doing his part to make this a “Specialist Christmas.”

Taking a cue from fellow Big Ten kicker, Minnesota’s Peter Mortell, Allen decided, as Mortell did previously, to use his Citrus Bowl gift to help others. Michigan is here preparing to face Florida in the Citrus Bowl on New Year’s Day, and part of the bowl’s gift to players is a $315 Best Buy gift card. They had the opportunity to spend it Sunday night during a bowl-sponsored event.

Instead of shopping around for a television or video game, Allen bought 21 $10 iTunes gift cards and a number of head phones.

Allen, via Twitter, said he was inspired by Mortell to use his gift card “to buy for others! Can’t wait to hand these out to deserving kids.” He included a photo of the purchased items.

“We just had Christmas so I figured I don’t really need anything, might as well put it to something worthwhile,” Allen said after practice Sunday.

Santa Allen will pay a visit when he returns to Ann Arbor to C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital where many of the Michigan athletes make weekly trips to visit the hospitalized kids.

“Music’s pretty cool so maybe they’ll like it,” Allen said.

Mortell, a punter/field foal holder, last year played in the Citrus Bowl with the Gophers and used his $452 Best Buy card to buy Christmas gifts for kids at St. Joseph’s Home for Children.

After receiving so much support, he decided to create “A Very Specialist Christmas,” since he is a kick-game specialist. According to his website, Mortell has partnered with the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital to raise money and buy gifts for many of the teenage patients who must spend the holiday in a hospital room. So far he has raised $27,000.

Via Twitter, Mortell applauded Allen, noting another Big Ten “specialist giving back. Hats off to you, @KennyAllen91! You’re making a difference this year.”

Allen said he and Mortell have attended kicking camps together and remembered what he did with his gift card.

“He’s doing something great,” Allen said.

The social media angle is an important one with these gestures of kindness, and Allen suggested snowballing a “pay-it-forward” approach.

"Some people don’t have it as well as we do,” Allen said, whose Twitter handle is @KennyAllen91. “It’s always nice to help someone else out. The way I thought about it, I wouldn’t have really thought about it if I never saw Peter’s tweet for what he did.

“What he did by posting it on social media kind of inspired me. I figured if I do it, I could post it, someone else sees it, someone else would be inspired. Just do something nice for someone else.”

Allen, a Fenton native, received many comments of praise on his Twitter page, but he is hopeful something more will come from the Twitter activity related to his act of kindness.

“That’s the goal, trying to get someone else to see it, get someone else to step up and do something,” Allen said.

Citrus Bowl

Michigan vs. Florida

Kickoff: 1 p.m. Jan. 1, Orlando, Florida, Citrus Bowl Stadium

TV/radio: ABC/WWJ

Records: No. 14 Michigan 9-3, No. 19 Florida 10-3

Line: Michigan by 4

Series: Michigan leads 2-0