Last night was magical!
It was "Senior Night" at the Cosby home football game.
Since this is Jared's 4th year at Cosby, he is considering himself a Senior as well.
And he is very proud of his senior standing.
He will tell you very quickly "I am an senior" - (which he pronounces as sing-ner by the way.)
For the past several years, Jared has been a manager for the Cosby Varsity football team.
Starting at the end of July, he joins the team for daily practices and is always on the sideline for the Friday night games once they begin.
It has been a huge opportunity for Jared to grow and learn.
Jared is anxious about most things in life, and quick to avoid conversations of any kind.
He struggles with verbal communication and social situations.
When he first started with the football team, Jared would not attend practices without me or his hired attendant being there.
He would ONLY go to home football games.
He would have to leave at halftime.
So much has changed over these years.
He even rides the bus with the team to away games, and he is never going to leave a game even a second before the game ends.
But you would never have guessed where he started if you saw him last night!
He chatted with everyone around him as we waited in line with the rest of the seniors to be introduced to the crowd.
His smile COVERED his face.
Autism took a back seat.
He walked down the track to claps and cheers from his peers as his name was called.
Then one of the senior football players ran over and said come on Jared, we need you.
He took off and joined up with all of the other senior football players in a group photo.
Right in the middle of the group!
It was simply amazing to see.
There he was ---
participating in his community,
and being accepted for exactly who he is.
It was completely magical!
You could feel it.
And Jared's face showed that he felt it too!
And it didn't stop there!
Jared was asked to be a Team Captain at last night's game.
I don't even know what all goes into someone being chosen to be a Team Captain for the game, but I do know it is a HUGE honor to be chosen.
I watched the other Captains walk with Jared to the center of the football field and saw Jared participate in the coin toss before the game.
I saw him shake hands with the other team's captains.
I watched him look around from the center of the field and take it all in.
I could see his JOY!
What was even more powerful in that moment, was that I could see the JOY of his teammates, the coaches, the other managers, and the crowd.
I could see it on their faces.
The magic of that moment affected everyone.
Everyone that saw it, knew this was one of those moments to not forget!
Throughout the night Jared hung out by the water table.
He chatted with and encouraged players.
He gave fist bumps and high fives.
And he danced some more!
First thing Jared said when he got in the car last night after the game was
"Coach Mutascio told me I AM a Captain tonight! I was a Captain for my Cosby Titans!"
A football coach does many things for his team, many of which I will never understand completely since it involves the mechanics of being a football player.
A coach teaches things like
how to run routes,
improving all sorts of skills.
But in watching football these past few years through Jared's eyes, I can absolutely tell you that the coaches at Cosby do so much more.
They change lives!
They change communities!
the true meaning of team,
keeping the game and life in perspective,
It was evident that whether Cosby won or lost the game last night (they did win by the way),
that there was so much more that had already been won by everyone.
My son is a different person today than he was three years ago.
He has a confidence about him that was not there before.
He believes in himself and knows that he can contribute to his community!
Life changing.... and certainly.... magical!
And not just life changing for Jared, but for everyone involved.
Even opposing teams and their coaches have approached me and shared Jared's impact on them, and the impact that the Cosby community's inclusion of Jared has had on them and their team!
Far reaching impact!
Cosby, we can't thank you enough.
You look past autism and value Jared as a person.
Our family is forever grateful.
"To the world you may be just one person, but to one person you may be the world.”
Taking the Senior walk with dad! Look at that smile!
Coin toss with the Captains.
Jared with his friend Hannah!
Just a little dancing and celebrating!