HEATH TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Hamilton’s varsity football team cheered from the sidelines Saturday during a game that was “one of the best things that could happen to you,” according to one player.
For Hamilton High School’s inaugural Victory Day, the team relinquished their field to children with special needs, giving them a chance to do something many of them have never done: run a football play, score a touchdown, and have all eyes on them.
“The focus is really on the kids who have a disability, to give them this moment to shine… it was well worth the time to watch their faces and everything, and bringing everyone’s differences together is really awesome,” explained high school teacher and event organizer Kenzie Brewer.
Brewer and her husband went to a Victory Day event at another school last year and saw how much everyone loved it. They wanted to give kids in Hamilton the chance to experience the same thing in their own school colors.
When Hamilton’s Victory Day arrived Saturday, everyone in the crowd lined up to create a tunnel for the players who broke through a banner as they ran onto the field, smiling and laughing as the crowd cheered them on.
Each of those players worked with a small group of high school players who guided them through the steps of a play. Adrian Sanchez was one of the players who helped.
“It was an awesome experience, just being with these kids and seeing them so happy. I don’t know, the feeling in my stomach was just awesome. I loved it,” he said.
Adrian and his teammate Gage Todd worked with 6-year-old Peter who was excited to throw around the ball with the older boys as he waited on the field for his turn to score.
“It makes me feel even more blessed than I already do, just being able to come out here on Friday nights and have fun,” said Adrian.
Play after play, the crowd cheered as the kids made it into the end zone with the football in hand. The kids crossed the line at different times, but all had huge smiles.
Peter was one of the faster kids, surprising his partners.
“I expected him to run his best, which he did, but I didn’t expect him to be that fast for how young he was,” Gage said. “It made me really happy because he got to do something that he might not have gotten to do.”
Brewer said everyone she approached about the event immediately jumped in to help— from the coaches and announcer, to the equipment manager and the honors choir that sang the national anthem before the game.
“It was pretty awesome when everyone lined up to see the tunnel grow and grow and grow and to see all the support that these kiddos… that’s when it hit me, that we’ve done something really good here today,” she said.
Local businesses and individuals donated nearly $2,000 to help make the event a reality.
Brewer plans to do it again next year and hopes even more people will get involved.
“It’s one of the best things you could ever witness,” said Gage.