A rare Friday night road-trip to “the game” ended in a life-changing moment for two long-lost siblings.
Brothers Ivory and Ely came to the Dallas-Fort Worth area with their mother and two other siblings after their home in New Orleans was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Eventually, the family was forced to split and the boys each were adopted by different families in the Metroplex about five years ago, and had lost touch in that time.
That is, until last Friday night.
Ivory’s adopted father, Rick Dabner of Highland Village, decided to take his three boys to an away football game for an evening out. The family usually only attends Marcus High’s home games.
"We were thinking about going to the Allen game, the opening of the new stadium right?" said Rick, though eventually they decided to make the hour trip to Mansfield instead to cheer on Marcus.
It was during the fourth quarter of the game that a senior running back on the Mansfield team started having a stand-out performance, and when his name was announced for a big play, it immediately caught 11 year-old Ivory’s attention.
"I heard Elijah Carr-Walker,” said Ivory. "I turned to my dad and said, 'that was my brother!'"
To the Dabners’ surprise, Ivory’s older brother was now living in Mansfield and playing on the field in front of them.
As the game came to a close, they made their way to the gates of the field and got Ely’s attention, and the older brother instantly recognized his visitors.
“I was like, 'no way,' then I looked back and was like, 'that's him,'” said Ely. “I dropped my helmet and just walked over. I had to give him a hug. I cried a little bit."
The brothers were reunited.
Ely said he had only had a few opportunities to see Ivory since their adoption, but the most recent was years ago. He only knew for sure they were both in good homes.
The older of the two, Ely, could remember some moments from the disaster in New Orleans, saying it was tough and he was glad his brother was too young to remember, being only 18-months-old at the time.
What especially made the reunion special was that it came just hours before the tenth anniversary of Katrina making landfall.
A coincidence, maybe, but the Dabners said they know it was meant to be.
"This was God saying, ‘I've done it in bold print,’" said Ivory’s mom, Carol.
At this point, the brothers said they plan to meet up more often and Ely hopes to help Ivory grow his baseball and football skills.
The Dabners are also planning to cheer on Mansfield and Ely more often, and will attend this Friday’s game.