Most little boys dream of heading to the end zone, ball in hand, being chased by the opposing team as the crowd cheers them on. This reality happened for twelve year old Kaleb Schaffner Saturday, October 11. What makes this moment even more special though is Kaleb has Cerebral Palsy. And the way he made it into the end zone is a true act of selfless love.
Kaleb doesn’t walk. He doesn’t speak. But he LOVES football and watching his older brother play for the Hilltop team. He also enjoys watching his classmates on the Cadet 5th and 6th grade youth team. His classmates love him right back and had a special jersey made for Kaleb to wear as he watches from the sidelines.
Saturday though, Kaleb was more than a spectator. He was a teammate. In the 4th quarter, Hilltop was on offense when the call came for Kaleb to take the field. Wheeled on by big brother Austin, the ball was snapped and handed to Kaleb. From there it was pure adrenaline as Austin pushed Kaleb about 60 yards toward the goal line. All the players followed cheering his name. All the fans on both sides of the field stood and cheered. Kaleb was concentrating on the ball and Austin with a determined look wheeled him the final yards as everyone clapped, cheered, and many cried at the love shown by not just those from Hilltop, but those from the Liberty Center sideline as well.
What happened next was even more amazing. Kaleb was presented a helmet from the Liberty Center Coach. Hand painted by Kyle Kern at KK Collision of Liberty Center it was painted with the Liberty Center colors on one side and Hilltop on the other. A Liberty Center player donated it as a keepsake. Both teams gathered for a photo and wished the star player well.
Kaleb has always been loved by his classmates who include him in everything. He has always been loved by his family and the Hilltop Community. And now, he is loved by the Liberty Center Community too as he brought together young boys in an act of love, sportsmanship and caring.
With a smile that could light up any room, Kaleb gave his thanks. While it’s a moment his family won’t soon forget, it’s also a moment – and a lesson – the young boys on both sides of the field will remember as well.