The Olivet Eagles middle school football team in Olivet, Mich. changed a fellow student’s life forever by performing a secret play on Nov. 7.
The Eagles went behind their coach’s back with a play called the “Keith Special.” This play was meant for teammate and friend, Keith Orr, who has learning and behavioral disabilities. The team wanted to give Orr the chance to score a touchdown.
According to the CBS report, Eagles player Sheridan Hedrick was running the ball and intentionally fell down on the 1-yard-line.
No one knew what was going on, the crowd was in an roar, and then the Eagles called the “Keith Special.”
The ball was hiked and was handed to Keith, and he ran across the goal line with his teammates by his side.
Keith’s parents said they were surprised by the play and almost missed the special moment.
“Somebody is always going to have his back, from now until the day he graduates,” Keith’s mother told CBS News.
Keith’s parents were grateful, but it was the players who felt the most joy.
“I went from mostly caring about myself and my friends, to caring about everyone and trying to make everyone’s day in everyone’s life,” said Justice Miller, one of the Eagles wide receivers.
By caring about another person, this young middle school football player learned a valuable lesson that we all need to learn … true joy comes from serving others.
If he has learned this lesson at such a young age, we as college students have no excuse.
Service is not easy. It takes sacrifice and time, but it also yields great awards. Many news outlets reported on this act of kindness simply because it was unusual. Acts of kindness should not be unusual — they should be common. This is a problem we can solve.
CBS called it the most inspirational football play of all time.
Teammate Nick Jungel said that the team really wanted to prove that Orr was part of the team. This is not the only act of kindness that has been displayed by youth this year.
Last February in El Paso, Texas Coach Peter Morales of Coronado High School basketball team gave Mitchell Marcus the chance of a lifetime, but it was the opposing team that made his dream come true.
According to CBS, Mitchell Marcus, the team manager, has a developmental disability and had never been able to play for the team. During the last game of the season, with 90 seconds left, Coach Morales decided to put Marcus in the game. Morales said he was prepared to lose the game for Marcus’ sake.
Marcus’ teammates did everything they could so he could score a basket, but weren’t successful. He either missed the shot or dropped the ball.
What happened next in the final seconds of the game changed everything. The opposing team had the ball. Jonathon Montanez, a member of the opposite team, yelled out Marcus’s name and then threw the ball right to him.
Marcus turned around and scored a basket as the clock hit zero. The gym erted into cheers and fans stormed the court, lifting Marcus above their heads and cheering his name.
“I was raised to treat others how you want to be treated. I just thought Mitchell deserved his chance — deserved his opportunity,” Jonathon Montanez told CBS reporter Steve Hartman.
Marcus’ mother said she will cry about it for the rest of her life.
Neither the touchdown nor the basket changed the outcome of the game, but they did change the lives of those two boys.
We, too, can change people’s lives with simple acts of service. These young men were not trying to serve so they could become famous.
They were simply trying to help them have a better day. They wanted them to feel appreciated and loved. Changing their lives was not their goal, but it was the end result of their service. It changed both the teammates that served, and the young boys who received their kindness. They went out of their way to help someone.
We need to do the same, and that requires sacrifice. It is never going to be convenient to serve.
So let’s take this lesson taught by middle school students, and go out of our way to serve. These acts of service were simple, thoughtful and considerate. Let us in this season of giving present the best gift of all: hope. Because with that gift, all service is rendered.