ESTERO, Fla. — If you know Florida Gulf Coast University, you probably know J. Webb Horton. He has influenced so many lives and the testimonials show for it.
“He may be the friendliest, easiest to get to Lake, supportive person I’ve ever been around,” FGCU Senior Assoc. AD for External Affairs Emeritus Butch Perchan said. “To meet him, to shake his hand, you just know you found a friend probably for life.”
“He’s the most personable person that’s probably ever been on this campus,” FGCU Women’s Basketball Head Coach Karl Smesko added.
“[He’s] just always there to help in any way he can,” FGCU Women’s Tennis Head Coach Courtney Vernon said.
Horton was FGCU’s first assistant athletics director, coached both the men’s and women’s tennis teams, and now broadcasts Eagles basketball games.
“I think he’s done probably as much as anyone to get the word out about FGCU,” Smesko said, adding that his players love Horton’s presence at games.
Back in April, Horton was diagnosed with chronic heart failure. On May 3rd, he had a heart valve replacement, which was followed by an unexpected open-heart surgery. While in the ICU, Horton dealt with kidney decline and was required to have dialysis sessions three times per week.
Through all of that, J. Webb has battled.
“Pretty much is a miracle-man that he is still with us,” Vernon said. “He’s been fighting for a couple months now.”
Horton has improved to a state where he is allowed to leave rehab. It is a step in the right direction, but going home will be a costly endeavor.
“He’s going home but nothing is going to be covered by his insurance anymore,” Vernon said. “At this point he needs pretty consistent 24 hour care.”
So, the people that Horton has impacted throughout the years have come together to support him. A GoFundMe page has been created for his recovery expenses. Only 12 days in and the community has already donated nearly $33,000.
“I think the email started with 70 or 80 people and the next thing I know I’ve got hundreds of emails from people not just here, but all over the area saying ‘how is he doing and how can I help?’.”
Horton has seen the donations pour in and is grateful for everyone’s support. If you’d like to help, you can donate here.