SUAMICO, Wi. (WBAY) - This weekend Bay Port High School football players got to be the coaches during the third year of Touchdowns for Autism. It’s an inclusive, free football clinic for kids on the autism spectrum and their siblings.
“Really it’s just about creating fun situations for them to be a part of and putting smiles on their face,” said Head Coach Gary Westerman.
“I think seeing the kids smile just makes my day,” said Bay Port Senior Call Verlanic. “Seeing them have a good time and run through the drills. They just love it.”
Centerpiece, a Caravel Autism Health Company, organizes the event. Public Relations Director Nicole Berlowski believes it’s a great program.
“It’s been wonderful just looking around and seeing the smiles on the families’ faces along with the kids having a great time and feeling supported,” said Berlowski.
Kids learned practical football skills, like tackling and throwing during drills, but also the important stuff. Like how to make a grand entrance by running through the tunnel at the edge of the field, and how to create their own touchdown celebrations.
However, the best part for most involved is the relationships that are built.
“Hanging with the football players,” said Riley Schmitz, one of the participants. “Really fun, they’re really nice, too.”
“There are differences, but football really brings it together,” said Westerman. “So it’s more than just a game, it’s not just football, it’s about the relationships developed. I think our kids learn that through our special kids today.”
The football clinic was free for all the kids ages three to 18 who participated.