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story.lead_photo.caption Dustin Pryor — along with his father, Chuck Pryor, and his brothers, Ryan Pryor, Devon Pryor and Donnie Knotts — show off their Chiefs' pride Sunday during the Super Bowl in Miami, Florida. Photo by Submitted photo

While many locals watched Sunday's Super Bowl game on TV, several Mid-Missourians attended the big game in Miami Gardens, Florida, to cheer on the Kansas City Chiefs and watch their favorite football team take home the trophy.

The Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers 31-20 during Super Bowl LIV, ending a 50-year hiatus.

Community support helped the Pryor family, of Versailles, witness that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

With the help of a GoFundMe page, along with support from Walmart and Fox Sports, Dustin Pryor — who has down syndrome — was able to attend the Super Bowl, along with his father and three brothers.

Stationed along the 30-yard line in the middle section of the stadium, the Pryors were nervous going into the final quarter after some rocky moments in the third quarter, Dustin's dad, Chuck Pryor, said.

When the Chiefs' running back, Damien Williams, scored the final touchdown though, that's when it hit the family their star football team would be Super Bowl champions.

"(Dustin's) a believer; he gets nervous but he never stopped doubting them," Chuck Pryor said. "I know when that play happened, he was jumping up and down, screaming, hugging his brothers. It was exciting."

Compared to other football games, Chuck Pryor said, he was most surprised by fans' dedication to watch the game and halftime show, adding the food vendors and restrooms were empty during the game.

"It didn't matter if you were a 49ers or Chiefs' fan," he said. "Everybody is happy to be there and it's just a great happy atmosphere."

The family wouldn't have been able to experience that moment if it hadn't been for the generosity of the community and strangers, Chuck Pryor said.

A family friend started the GoFundMe page after the AFC Championship game last month, and the page raised more than $20,000.

"We just want to thank everyone who supported Dustin and our family, giving us this opportunity to go," Chuck Pryor said. "It's just unreal. I know 'thank you' is not near enough but we just want to thank everyone that helped."

Down the field, Brandon McElwain and his fiance, Christy Cameron, sat in the 300 section of the Hard Rock Stadium, near the end zone. When Williams' touchdown was under review, the Jefferson City residents already knew the ruling would stand since they were front and center when the play happened.

One moment McElwain said he will always remember is when a nearby elderly man realized the Chiefs would win the game.

"When it was pretty much known that the game had been won, he took his glasses off and you could see that he wiped away a tear and he pointed to the sky and kept saying, 'Thank you, thank you,'" McElwain recalled. "In that moment, everyone is going to remember that they were there."

Even if someone can't afford Super Bowl tickets, McElwain said, he recommended they travel to the host city and experience the energetic atmosphere and activities outside of the game.

"It's a life-changing event that you'll never get to do again," he said.

Deanna Sherwood, of Jefferson City, said she wouldn't miss the opportunity to attend the Super Bowl and cheer on her favorite football team.

She traveled to Florida with eight other Mid-Missourians, and the group was seated in the lower level of the stadium, along the 30-yard line.

"When we knew for sure they were going to do it, it was indescribable," Sherwood said. "There were so many emotions running through you. You're excited and you almost want to cry and everybody is just screaming and hugging each other, high-fiving each other."

Sherwood became a season ticket holder this last year, joking she was the Chiefs' "good luck charm."

Reid Millard, of Jefferson City, was also part of that Mid-Missouri group and said the experience was "exhilarating."

"Once you win and you're part of all that, it's an exhilarating feeling to be there and knowing you're watching your favorite team make history," he said.

Chiefs and 49ers fans weren't the only ones who added to the "energetic" atmosphere, Sherwood said. Fans of other football teams attended the big game, with many of them supporting the Chiefs, she added.

Sherwood said she hopes this Super Bowl moment won't be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. She joked the Mid-Missouri group is already planning on cheering on the Chiefs in next year's Super Bowl.

Gov. Mike Parson agreed this won't be the last time Missourians see the Chiefs in the Super Bowl. He and first lady Teresa Parson were seated near the 20-yard line at Hard Rock Stadium during the Super Bowl.

"I would tell the Chiefs fans out there that there's going to be more opportunities out there," Mike Parson said. "This team's something special. You've got a young quarterback here and he's going to start a new dynasty of his own. I think for Kansas City, there's going to be more Super Bowls to come."

As a "die-hard Chiefs fan," Parson said, he was honored to be the Missouri governor when the team won the Super Bowl.

Parson said he most admired the Chiefs' determination.

"These Chiefs players never give up. They just kept up and kept playing and kept playing, and that's exactly what they did in that game," he said. "They just had that attitude and you just have the will to win sometimes, and I think that's exactly what they did. You want to talk about an example of true grit, it's the Kansas City Chiefs."

The Parsons did not use state taxpayer money to purchase the Super Bowl tickets, according to a news release last week. Except for required standard security, there will not be a cost to state taxpayers, it adds.

While in Florida, the Parsons provided baskets of "Buy Missouri items" to California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, according to the news release.

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