Anyone who knows Steven Skinner knows he is a helper.
He could be counted on to mentor any young person who expressed an interest in joining the United States Navy, bringing them under his wing and imparting wisdom about the fulfilling career serving others, as only a decorated commander could.
His 16 years in the Navy was followed by an equally impressive career in business that ushered in a new circle of individuals touched by his generous nature.
“The most impressive part about Steven is that he always kept his office door opened to everyone,” an employee wrote of him on LinkedIn. “He always made time to stop and talk to you, but most of all Steven would listen to you and always give you his all. Steven, thanks for being a great friend.”
He was a rock for his family, and his goal as a father was to guide his children into becoming people of sound character who could each live up to their own individual and exceptional character.
It was a given that Steven, 56, was the man to go to when there was a problem to be fixed or a question that needed answering. Which was why it came as such a shock that he would be dealt a blow that was insurmountable, even for him.
“Steven had been on a business trip in New York,” wife Lisa Skinner told InsideEdition.com.
He called her from the Delta Sky Lounge to say he felt funny, and the next call she received was from the Port Authority saying they were taking Steven to a hospital.
“They thought he had a mild stroke,” she recalled of that day in December 2017. “At the hospital, they saw he had a brain tumor.”
Steven was diagnosed with glioblastoma. Though the cancer in his brain was incurable, Steven fought it with a vengeance. He underwent two rounds of radiation, underwent two surgeries to reduce the swelling on his brain and took chemotherapy pills. But in November 2018, the Skinners were given even more bad news.
“Around Thanksgiving he was given four to six months to live,” son Andrew Skinner told InsideEdition.com.
That news took with it the knowledge that anything was a given, but it spurred 23-year-old Andrew into action. It was time for Steven’s family to help him.
“Andrew came home from college a year ago and said he was staying to help,” Lisa, 55, said. “One day, he needed a break so I said ‘Why don’t you go off and watch a movie.’ He went to the movies and was texting me from the theater. ‘I just made a decision: I’m gonna get dad to the Super Bowl.’”
It had long been a goal of Steven’s to get to the Super Bowl, and each year when the big game rolled around, he spoke of making it a reality. But something always came up, and it was pushed off until the next time.
“Overnight, it looked like he would never have an opportunity [to go],” Lisa said. “It was a dream that was unrealized.”
But the Super Bowl this year would be in their hometown of Atlanta, Georgia, and Andrew took it as a sign.
“In December I thought, ‘Maybe I’ll start a GoFundMe to start to raise some money,’” Andrew said.
He set a goal to raise $30,000, which would help pay for two tickets in a handicap-accessible section of Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
“Not only is this the most opportune time for him to go to a Super Bowl but it is also his last opportunity,” Andrew wrote on the page, entitled The Commander’s Final Send-Off. “If any family members, friends, friends of friends, colleagues could either donate or spread the word of my father’s GoFundMe campaign my family would very much appreciate it. Prayers and good thoughts for my father would mean just as much to my family as well.”
And spread it did. The page quickly reached its goal and is continuing to see donations pour in. Contributions came from strangers all over the world, as well as from people whose paths had crossed Steven’s and wanted to make known how important he was to them.
“Unless people saw us or were real close family and friends … people didn’t know Steven was ill,” Lisa explained. “He didn’t want it on social media originally … it’s been really humbling for all of us, and it makes us realize how we interact with people matters.”
Colleagues from the military and his company reached out, as well as the National Football League itself to extend its support in making sure Steven made it to the Super Bowl. And then came a call from a kindhearted stranger.
“I said ‘Drew, I can’t take you and your dad to the Super Bowl,’” recalled Mike Medici, president of Premier Transportation. “’But we can take your whole family.’”
Medici extended an invitation to Steven, Lisa and their four children to sit with them in his suite, effectively solving all problems concerning logistics and making possible a day the Skinners would never forget.
“We’ve been fortunate to go to a lot of Super Bowls, we know the joy of taking our children to the Super Bowl, so we decided to extend that joy to the wonderful Skinner family,” Medici told InsideEdition.com.
The Skinners were overjoyed.
“I was speechless,” Lisa said. “All I could say was ‘thank you’ over and over again. I told [Medici] I don’t know if he is an angel or Santa Claus because he is fabulous.”
The Skinners plan to donate the money raised through GoFundMe to glioblastoma research, and it’s their hope that more will soon be uncovered about the aggressive cancer.
“I didn’t know much about glioblastoma until my dad got it. It’s so big and deadly, and I don’t really hear anything about it,” Andrew said. “I’m glad we’re going to be able to donate that money.”
Sunday will be bittersweet for the Skinner family as they gather together to tick off an item on a bucket list that they should have had much longer to be completed. But the day, and the months that have led up to it, will be bigger for the family than anything the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams pull off.
“Steven wanted to be known as a good dad, a good husband,” Lisa said. “This one year has been a really tough year for all of us … but this year was one for him to find he really did accomplish what he wanted to, and he is leaving this type of life he wanted to leave.”