11-Year-Old Football Players Wear Suits to Honor 6-Year-Old

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Click HERE to watch an inspiring 1 minute video on this awesome story.

There are so many virtues that come to mind … Caring, Charity, Courage, Humility, Sacrifice, Other-Centered, Magnanimous

Thank you Bridgewater Badgers! I admire you.

Virtue = Strength, Lou Judd 
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Suited band of brothers stands up for unstoppable 6-year-old 

BRIDGEWATER, Mass. —When Danny Keefe was born, his parents were told he would be severely handicapped both physically and mentally due to a serious brain hemorrhage.

But the dapper little boy with the infectious smile and indomitable spirit defied those predictions, the Enterprise reported.

The Mitchell Elementary School kindergartner is just like any other 6-year-old in every way but two, his grandfather Richard Osterman said.

Danny speaks with difficulty due to childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) and he wears a suit and tie every day by his own choosing.

“CAS has not kept Danny down. He keeps up with his siblings as well as a host of friends both children and adults,” Osterman said.

Danny, the official water coach for the Bridgewater Badgers Div. 5 Peewees, cuts quite a figure on the sidelines with his suit and fedora, like a miniature Tom Landry, Osterman said. And he’s forged an unbreakable bond with the boys on the team, his parents said.

So, when the quarterback, Tommy Cooney, heard Danny was getting picked on because of the way he speaks, he took it upon himself to do something about it.

The 11-year-old Williams Intermediate School fifth-grader decided to wear a suit to school just like Danny in a show of support for his young friend.

“He’s such a good person. He doesn’t let it bother him. He goes on with his day. He’s a 6-year-old kid. We should all respect that,” said Tommy, whose father, Tom, is the team’s head coach.

Tommy told his fellow Badgers about “Danny Appreciation Day” and they all thought it was a great idea, including Danny’s older brother Tim, 10, who plays on the team.

On Wednesday, Nov. 20, more than 40 students from Mitchell and Williams crowded around the little boy with the winning personality in the Williams library cheering “Danny, Danny.”

“This is the best day ever,” Danny said, beaming.

Danny’s mother said Danny has regularly been teased at the playground and elsewhere. Kids have pulled his hat down and called him demeaning names.

Many of the boys became emotional as they spoke about Danny getting picked on.

Tim said his little brother is an inspiration.

“Every day he comes home and says he doesn’t care what other people think of him. He only cares what he thinks of himself,” Tim said.

Danny’s father, Mark Keefe, an assistant coach for the Badgers, said the head coach and older boys have taken Danny under their wing in a remarkable way. They let him run out onto the field with them and include him in all their activities.

“He feels so loved and protected,” Danny’s mother, Jennifer Keefe, said.

Jimmy Peterson, 11, put it this way: “The coach calls us a band of brothers. He’s one of us.”

Nicholas Lambert, 10, said: “We’re all human and all the same. We’re all created equal.”

Brett Jackson, 10, said: “Whenever I see the big, huge smile on his face, it makes my day. He keeps his head high.”

Larry Kirlis, 10, said he likes Danny just the way he is. Larry has two siblings with special needs and has seen how much it hurts when people make fun of them.

“Danny couldn’t be any better,” Larry said.

Matt Giurleo, 11, said: “I don’t think he should be picked on because he’s different. Everyone’s different. He shouldn’t be picked on for who he is.”

Danny and his twin sister, Emily, were born at 34 weeks and five days. Emily suffered no negative health consequences. But a week after he was born, Danny developed a fever.

It turned out to be caused by a brain bleed. Danny’s doctors said he might not live and if he survived he’d never reach any developmental milestones. But the only one he’s missed has been speech.

“A nurse took me aside and said, ‘Don’t let them limit him.’ And I’ve held that faith,” Jennifer Keefe said.

Childhood apraxia of speech is a motor speech disorder in which a person knows what he wants to say but the brain has trouble coordinating the muscles to say the words.

As a result, many people have difficulty understanding Danny. But, remarkably, his three siblings “magically understand every utterance,” their grandfather said.

Jennifer Keefe said intensive speech therapy is the only treatment and has already made a big difference in Danny’s case.

Wednesday, she stood with her hands on Tommy Cooney’s shoulders, her voice choked with emotion, as she thanked the Badgers.

“Look at what happened from one person. You all have this in you. You can pay it forward. If you ever have the opportunity to stick up for someone or be their friend, you should do that,” she said.

Danny’s parents said Mitchell has done a wonderful job working with any children who have reacted inappropriately to Danny, whether intentionally or inadvertently. They are very young and often don’t understand the situation, Mark Keefe said. It is a great opportunity to educate them.

Mark Keefe told the boys they should be very proud of themselves.

“This is all because of you guys. It has nothing to do with the adults. It’s all about a group of fifth-grade kids,” he told them.

When Danny used to come home crying after being teased, his mother would hope his last thought at night wasn’t about being picked on.

“With this act of kindness, I hope he thinks of that as he goes to sleep,” she said.

The following students suited up for “Danny Appreciation Day”: Tommy Cooney, Matt Keefe, Tim Keefe, Emily Keefe, Jimmy Peterson, Nicholas Lambert, Brett Jackson, Nick Hogg, Devin O’Leary, Thatcher Abbassi, Larry Kirlis, Chris DeSantis, Brett Rosher, Brian Rosher, Matt Giurleo, Jacob Spear, Max Compton, Vinny Forziati, Cade Chiocca, Liam Woods, Jason Revil, Brendan Rosher, Joseph Jones IV, Kyle Phillips, Riley Welch, Riley Manning, Nick Longo, Connor Chiocca, Aidan Brien, Jack Morgan, Jake Prisco, Ryan MacDermott, Jacob Lawson, Raul Sanjay, Bobby Ladue, Zack Whiting, Danny Doherty, Cameron Hogg, Andrew Johnson, Chris Hogg, Nick Brown, David Usher, Ben Hogg and Josh Hogg.

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