Victory Day - Special Needs Children, Football, Cheer and Virtue

Aaron Segedi, a SportsLeader coach from Trenton High School in Michigan, has started a tradition that I think every school should emulate. Hosting a day for special needs children to come together and play football or cheer surrounded by family and friends.

But he went a step further and invited 3 other schools from within their conference to come and live the experience as well. Teams they line up against every year and compete: Wyandotte, Woodhaven and Carlson.

This was all blended in to their virtue theme of the week: Selflessness.

Here below are 2 articles by Byron Trimble of the Trenton Patch. One is pre-event and the other post.

Maybe you can have a Victory Day next year with teams from your conference. Maybe in 5 years there will be 50 victory days happening ...

Virtue = Strength, Lou

Trenton Football Players Team Up With Special Needs Children For One Game
The second annual community football game, or Victory Day, for special needs children from the downriver area will be at 10:30 a.m. this Saturday at Trenton High School.

On Sept. 17, the Trenton varsity football team will host the second annual Victory Day for children from Josephine Brighton Work Skills Center, the Madison/Downriver Regional Trainable Center or the Lincoln Center--Downriver schools for students who are physically or cognitively impaired or autistic--at Trenton High School's football stadium.

In this game, 40 young boys and girls get to take the field at the football stadium -- P.A. announcer, referees, and cheerleaders to boot -- and will be paired with one of the Trojan players or cheerleaders, what for many of them, might be the only football game of their lives.

That's not all. Each child will get a jersey, a medal, an introduction to the crowd, and an opportunity to catch or run for a touchdown. TheTrenton Marching Band will play the national anthem as well as form a tunnel in the end zone for player introductions.

Former Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr, Mayor Gerald Brown and city and school officials will be in attendance, with Coach Carr addressing the group before game time.

"It's absolutely one of the coolest events I've ever been a part of," Trenton varsity football assistant coach and event organizer Aaron Segedi said. "The looks on their faces are priceless. Absolutely priceless."

After the game, the Trenton Touchdown Club will serve hot dogs and juice for the families and Carroll’s Photography will also be available to take pictures of the event for each child.

The event will go from 10:30 a.m. till noon.

"There was a dad who was so excited walking up to me," Segedi said when asked about a highlight from last year. "He said to me, 'For the first time ever, I got to be ancy the night before my son's football game. Thank you so much!' That just shows it's not just about the kids, but the parents too."

"Victory Day" Was A Win For Everyone

The kids in the jerseys and scoring touchdowns were not the only ones who walked away from Saturday with smiles on their faces.

"We made a lot of days today," beamed Aaron Segedi, Trenton varsity football assistant coach and "Victory Day" coordinator. If you know Segedi at all, this is far from a boastful statement. He's talking about the volunteers as much as he is the participants.

"Everybody here walks away with a smile on their face," Trojan head coach Bob Czarnecki said.

The most noticeable smiles on Saturday were the ones lighting up the faces of the children.

"The smiles on their faces are the highlight for me," said senior Trenton football player Jeff Jones who was buddies with Tra Gaston for the day. "Big Tra" had one of the more memorable touchdown runs of the day by opting to run at the defenders instead of away from them and pushing them over with a tidal wave of stiff arms.

"I've wanted to score a touchdown my whole life," Tra said.

Trenton sophomore Chase Abraham got to be a mentor for the first time this year and was paired with Adrian Tyler. Adrian's favorite part of the day seemed to be letting Abraham hold a blocking pad up and then running into at fullspeed.

"Seeing them have fun is what I like best about it," said Abraham. "Just knowing that they probably don't get to have fun like this that often. It's cool."

Junior cheerleader Kaitlin Tracy was paired with Brooke McNally at last year's "Victory Day" and developed a unique relationship when Brooke's parents brought her to see Tracy cheer at a lot of the home games. The two were paired again this year.

"It's incredible to get help them experience something like this," Tracy said while she stood next to her young friend who was practicing her touchdown dance for when she got her chance to score. "It's neat to be involved with one kid like I have, too. It was so sweet. Last year she cried when she had to leave me."

Segedi said that this event is all apart of the football program's leadership training as it tries to use a game to make quality young men. This week's theme, appropriate with Saturday's event, was selflessness.

But the Trojans were not the only players Downriver to learn that trait Saturday. Segedi invited coaches from Carlson, Woodhaven, and Wyandotte High Schools to bring some of their players to help out.

One of those players were Carlson star Kyle Ready.

"I noticed the joy they got from a lot of the little things," Ready said referring to things like tackling dummies and standing on the sideline for the national anthem. "I'm definitely going to learn to cherish the moments more."

Segedi said he spent last year running around making sure everything was in order too much and made sure that this year he sat back and simply soaked in the moments. One of those moments was when an autistic eight-year-old boy's mother, with tears in her eyes, approached him. She said her son, Robbie, absolutely loves football and spends most of his days playing football in the yard by himself for hours. Saturday, he played football on field, in a jersey, with fans, with tacklers.

"She told me her son said that this was the best day of his life and thank you," Segedi said with a smile.

Everyone had a smile on their face which is why one of the ugly truths of football did not exist Saturday. It's true in any type of competition--someone always wins, someone always loses.

No one lost in this game. Not on Saturday. Not at "Victory Day".