Shortly after his birth, Danny Keefe, now 6, suffered a severe brain hemorrhage and his parents were advised that their little boy might have trouble reaching developmental milestones. Danny's mother Jennifer Keefe remembers her worst fear at the time being she would never be able to take her baby boy home.
But Danny has defied all odds.
The suave kindergartener who sports a jacket, tie and fedora to school every day by choice does have childhood apraxia of speech, meaning he has a hard time getting words out clearly enough for others to understand. But Danny is always eager to attend his speech therapy sessions. Danny's mom says he often questions why he can't attend more sessions because he knows the therapy will allow him to communicate more clearly.
"He is probably one of the most determined, hard-working happy guys I have ever met," Jennifer Keefe said. "He has to work harder than anyone I know to just to form one clear word and he never gives up."
"For a kid that struggles so much and works so hard at it and never complains about it, I think that's the amazing thing about a 6-year-old where he knows how hard it is [and] he never complains about it…it makes you proud," Danny's father Mark Keefe said.
Danny also acts as the official "water coach" for the Bridgewater Badgers of the Division 5 Peewee Football League where he has made many friends. His grandfather Richard Osterman told WCVB News that with his suit and fedora on he's like a miniature Tom Landry on the sidelines.
But recently some kids at school started to make fun of him for his speech impediment and his dapper outfits. Jennifer Keefe remembers kids would taunt Danny by saying, 'Just talk. Just talk. Why don't you talk?' or by taking his hat off and throwing mulch in his hair.
But little did those kids know that Danny had the support of an entire football team behind him. His older brother Tim, a member of the Bridgewater Badgers, told a teammate that his little brother was being bullied at school and the team's quarterback 11-year-old, fifth grader Tommy Cooney decided to do something about it by starting "Danny Appreciation Day." On Nov. 20, 45 boys all dressed up in suit and tie in support of Danny.
"We heard that Danny was getting picked on, so we thought that we would all have a day to dress up like Danny," Cooney told WCVB News while choking back tears. "We thought we would all come to school like Danny and sponsor Danny to show Danny that we love him - that we love him very much."
Danny's parents have been so overwhelmed by all of the support and love that their little boy has received from his peers and even more so at the fact that older kids have to taken to Danny in such a positive and caring way.
"When you see other kids looking out for him and making sure he's okay whether it be down the football field or at a lacrosse or basketball game they always have his back," Mark Keefe said. "These kids legitimately have his back …..It leaves me speechless."
The Massachusetts House of Representatives honored Danny and his band of brothers the Bridgewater Badgers Sunday evening for taking a stand against his bullies. Danny also received a special recognition for his dedicated work as the teams "water coach" and for his shining personality that serves as an inspiration to the Bridgewater community.