BAY SHORE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Two rival Long Island teams and their fans forgot about football for an afternoon and united to embrace a special score.
As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported Monday, something wonderful happened on the field to 11-year-old Jackson Wyss.
“Overwhelmed, completely overwhelmed,” his mother said.
Tonya and James Wyss’ son was born with cerebral palsy, and born an avid football fan.
Bay Shore’s PAL opened its arms to Jackson, and its playbook during a recent game against rival Lindenhurst.
“I went up to the coach from Lindenhurst and explained what we wanted to do and he says, ‘When? How do you want to do it? Great.’ And he had a play set for his kids,” Suffolk PAL president Joseph Rao said.
“All the other kids on the other team started diving out of his way and trying to make tackles,” Bay Shore teammate Charlie Rao said.
“The players really helped to make it Jackson’s special day,” teammate Joey Rao added. “I saw Jackson with a big smile and the crowd going crazy behind me.”
Of course, Jackson’s parents were on pins and needles the entire time.
“You just want for them and it’s a little bit scary,” Tonya Wyss said. “Will they make friends? Will people make fun of them?”
Several years ago, Jackson’s sister, Emma, started a campaign, “Say No to the ‘R’ Word.” The Bay Shore community signed on. No more using the term “retarded.”
Instead, the idea is to stress embracing differences.
There wasn’t a dry eye on the field that day. Players and parents from both sides called it the “play of the year,” and no one remembered the final score.
“The future is very bright when we look at the generation coming up and what they are doing for each kid that has extra needs,” Tonya Wyss said.
On the arms and backs of his football brothers, Jackson was pushed across the goal line, bringing a community much more than a score.
Jackson has been on the sidelines for years as an honorary member of Suffolk’s PAL football league.