Ask the parents of a special needs child what hurts them the most, and I'm willing to bet you won't hear them talking about themselves. It's not the extra work. It's not the change in lifestyle. It's seeing their kids denied the chance to do the same things their so-called "normal" peers enjoy. And that is what makes the story of Evan Reeder, a teen with autism who ran a touchdown in the end zone at a high school football game, so incredible.
Reeder went out for football in his Illinois hometown, and the rules allow him to see playing time in every game. But his Asperger's makes it tough for Reeder to play like the other guys. As his mom said in a letter to their town newspaper, he's scared of getting hurt. So he has always stayed on the Monticello team's bench.
Until his coach saw an opportunity to let Evan be just like the other kids. He asked the opposing coach to let the Monticello team -- which was already winning 22-6 -- have one more touchdown in the fourth quarter. And then he asked for something really big: he wanted the players from Shelbyville to let Evan run the ball into the end zone without being touched at all, so he couldn't possibly get hurt.
That a coach would even think up that kind of plan to help a kid is amazing in and of itself. Plenty of coaches would be annoyed by the kid who went out for football when he's afraid of getting hurt. It takes a special person to understand that a child with autism deserves a chance to just be a regular kid, even if that means riding the pine.
But what's even cooler, what prompted Cindy Reeder to write a letter to the paper, is the fact that the Shelbyville coach agreed, and his kids went out of their way to make Evan's moment in the spotlight worth it. They pretended to run at him, so he'd get the sensation of what it's like to sprint across a field with guys coming at him, but they never touched him. They truly let him have that one moment every kid deserves.
Watch the video and try not to cry!
Do you have a child with special needs? Have other kids helped them to realize their dreams?