Dream of playing in football game comes true for boy with cerebral palsy

REGINA — Scoring a touchdown in a Regina Minor Football game was a dream come true for an 11-year-old boy who has cerebral palsy.

Mark Sulymka is the coach of the Griffins Atom team, and he heard all about Logan Tonge from his regular players who have gone to school with him since kindergarten.

“Logan is one of our biggest fans and I had heard that he was a big football fan and I saw him at one of our games a few weeks ago,” said Sulymka.

“I thought maybe he would enjoy coming down on the sidelines if we got him involved with the team because they’re all of his buddies and he’s never had an opportunity to participate in a group sports activity before.”

Tonge got his own jersey and came to the practice the night before the big game. Sulymka said it was the head coach of the opposing team, the Canadians, who gave him the idea to give Tonge the ball.

With 10 seconds left in the game, the Griffins had the ball, and that’s when the coach called time out and asked the official and the other coach if he could substitute a brand new player. It was Logan’s big chance and with the encouragement of players from both teams and the coach pushing his wheelchair, he made his move.

“We got Logan out there and we gave him a hand-off and he took off to the end zone and everybody was laughing and cheering and it was a very memorable, fantastic moment,” Sulymka explained.

“Logan was completely overwhelmed, he was screaming all the way to the end-zone, he’s a very bright and fantastic kid.”

Krista Smith, Logan’s mother, originally thought he would be thrilled just to see the game from the sidelines, but she never expected he would get this opportunity.

“He came home telling me that he had got to run this play and that he got to be part of the game,” she said. “He was just so excited.”

Smith said her son’s friends keep him involved with hand-offs when they play at recess on the playground.

“The word that he was using was, ‘I got to play real football,'” Smith said. “He got to feel like he was playing in a real game.”

She said he won’t stop talking about the game and every time he sees his friends, he recalls the time they got that touchdown.

It’s a moment he will never forget, and he sums it up in one word.

“Awesome.”

(CJME)

 

By Adriana Christianson, CJME , The Canadian Press

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