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Mullen on the Gators brand on the trail

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When former Florida coach Jim McElwain sold his Gainesville home in January for $1.4 million, it came with a punchline. McElwain sold his mansion, which he bought in 2015, at a $400,000 loss. That prompted a headline in the Tampa Bay Times to take one final dig at McElwain as he exited town to become an assistant coach at Michigan.

The truth is, however, McElwain ate the $400k for a good reason. The new owners of the house, the Staab family, have two kids with disabilities. Specifically, two of the Staab’s children, Tyler and Samantha, have varying complications from dystonia.

Thanks to a heartfelt story from Matt Baker of the Tampa Bay Times, we now know that McElwain’s mansion, which wasn’t even on the market at the time the Staab family inquired about it, had all of the features their kids would need.

The home was gorgeous, with stone walls, marble columns, a bronze fountain out front and citrus trees out back. More importantly, the 5,600-square-foot main home was subtly designed for a wheelchair thanks to a previous owner: Open rooms. Wide doorways. Multiple shower heads and rails. Ramps to the pool lanai.

The eight-car-garage-turned-guest-wing that McElwain used to house a visiting coaching staff would make a great starter apartment for Tyler. He could have the freedom he deserved but still be a few yards away, if he ever needed anything. There was even a wheelchair lift to raise him to the main home.

The same features that made it suited for a head football coach would work for the Staabs’ foundation, Tyler’s Hope for a Dystonia Cure. Donors at fundraisers could enjoy the bocce ball court and outdoor kitchen that formerly entertained players or boosters.

Baker’s story can be read in its entirety here, and it’s well worth it.

Things didn’t work out at Florida for McElwain, who went 22-12 in two-and-a-half seasons leading the Gators, but he helped a family who could’ve used some on his way out.

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