Receiving help is not a sign of weakness, but when you’ve grown up thinking you’re on your own in this world, it can be difficult to embrace the support of others. Many foster youth deal with this dilemma, yet Ray McElrathbey’s story is an example of how the reluctance to accept help is no match for a community determined to come around a family in need.
A real-life story come to life, Safety follows the journey of Ray, his younger brother Fahmarr, and the life-changing, supportive community they find at Clemson University in South Carolina. Like many siblings who grow up facing hardship, Ray and Fahmarr had a strong bond. When their mother’s struggle with drug addiction finally reached a breaking point, 11-year-old Fahmarr had nowhere to go but foster care. At the time, Ray was just starting his freshman year of college, but he decided to step up and take in Fahmarr. Initially, Ray tried to take on the responsibility of raising his brother by himself, all while balancing a college course load and keeping his commitment to the football team. The balancing act didn’t last long. Ray struggled to keep up with his classes, his football performance suffered, and the demands of parenting took their toll.
Once the scholarship athlete opened up to his coaches, teammates, and friends about the stress he was dealing with, things started to get better. Ray finally accepted their help and discovered the beauty of embracing the support of his community. Teammates helped share the load of parenting, and coaches pitched in with meals and rides to school for Fahmarr. Local church members volunteered their time and resources to help the brothers as well.
Things were going great until the NCAA started to take notice of the extra support Ray was receiving from his coaches and community, which was a violation of their strict policies. Just when Ray had become accustomed to leaning on his new extended family at Clemson, the rigid rules of the NCAA threatened to dismantle his support system, unless he could get a waiver for his unique situation.
To find out the ending to Ray and Fahmarr’s story, watch the heart-warming flick, Safety, streaming now on Disney Plus.