YPSALANTI, Mich. – When you think about college football players, you think of big, tough, angry athletes looking to make a tackle, but this story may change your mind.
Wednesday (May 25) was Victory Day at Eastern Michigan University, a day all about giving kids and adults with disabilities a chance to play on the football field.
The more than 150 Special Olympics participants get to try field goal kicking, throwing the football, running for a touchdown, and more.
Victory Day had a two-year hiatus due to COVID.
Garnie Hunter III is 12 years old and has attended Victory Day for years. He said the experiences make him feel “so happy,” and his favorite part is tackling players.
“This is like one of the most joyful times, and I mean, we’ve gone to Disney, and this outranks Disney to him,” said his father, Garnie Hunter Jr. “I took the day off of work just for this because I like to see how happy he gets.”
The energy is contagious.
Jake Donnellon, EMU Eagles Offensive Lineman, said, “The smile on everyone’s faces, they have so much joy getting to do this, and it’s hard not to feel joy.”
The real victory isn’t how many footballs you catch or how many touchdowns you make but the amount of memories and lessons you take with you.
“He’ll be talking about this for months,” Garnie Hunter Jr said.
“It’s very humbling to be able to see like I said, people come in and play this game that we play every day and just how much excitement they have,” Donnellon said. “Some of them will say, ‘The only disability is a bad attitude.’”