Students Conspire to Help Special Needs Teammate Score Touchdown

October 28, 2013

olivet special needs student scores touchdown

Sheridan Hedrick was in the clear. No defenders to stop him, only the endzone in sight.

But at the one-yard line, he slid to the ground, to incredulous groans from the crowd. His teammates patted him on the shoulder pads to congratulate him.

"I was going as fast as I could and then I saw the one-yard line," Hedrick said. "And I was like, 'I've gotta get this for Keith' and I downed it for him."

Enter Keith Orr, a 95-pound player who has behavioral and learning disabilities. His task: carry out the "Keith Special" -- a play drawn up by his teammates.

"He always tries his hardest and everything so we thought it would be cool to do something and have him get a touchdown," said Hendrick.

And Orr scored.

"After he scored that touchdown, the stadium erupted," said Coach Tim Jungel. "They were hooting and hollering. The kids have never celebrated a touchdown as enthusiastically as Keith's touchdown."

Keith started the season as an outsider. His parents signed him up for football to teach him teamwork. His mother says she was just happy Keith got playing time, but she never expected what happened Oct. 5.

"Yes I'm excited and happy that he made a touchdown, but what have these boys showed this community? That's what gets to me," she said. "Not that my kid made a touchdown, but that these kids planned it and they wanted him to have a touchdown. They've been planning it and they made it happen for him."

And the football experience for Keith Orr has helped him beyond the gridiron. His coach says he can see the difference in his life.

"Now [the other players] eat lunch with him," he said. "Now they talk to him in the halls. Keith has discovered there are things he can accomplish he didn't know he was capable of."

His mom is now more at ease, knowing that he has friends to last him through high school.

"They've got his back," said Carrie Orr. "And he knows it."

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