It is late September at Ballantyne Resort in Charlotte, and Chancellor Lee Adams is part of the entertainment at a golf tournament put on by the Allegro Foundation.
Chancellor Lee loves to dance, and he has been performing with the Allegro Foundation for years. The Allegro Foundation provides movement programs for children with physical and mental challenges. Many years ago, Chancellor Lee performed at Bank of America Stadium at a Panthers game with the group.
Today there are nine disabled dancers, assisted by a dozen able-bodied high school students. All of the performers are wearing khaki shorts, white T-shirts and vests that looks like an American flag. The theme: Patriotism.
As Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” plays over the loudspeakers, Chancellor Lee does 360-degree spins with his walker and occasionally waves an American flag while local high school student Gianluca Conte acts as his spotter.
At the song’s climax, Chancellor Lee lifts his hands completely off his walker, raises the flag and waves it high with a broad smile. Everyone cheers.
One current Carolina Panther has gotten to know Chancellor Lee. Panthers defensive end Kony Ealy met him several times through the Allegro Foundation. Ealy, who has a disabled sister, got involved as a spokesman for the foundation in part because of that.
“Lee is a really good kid to hang around,” Ealy says. “Full of fun. Great personality. His grandmom is a sweet lady and I commend her. What she’s doing with him is priceless.”
Ealy says he is aware of Carruth’s story and the dark chapter it became in Panthers history.
“A terrible tragedy,” Ealy says. “But it hasn’t stopped Lee. It didn’t stop him from loving people, and it hasn’t stopped anybody who’s around him now from loving him.”