-- It was a heartwarming moment for the Dallas, Pennsylvania, community when the high school paused its football game to create a special moment for one of the school’s freshman.
Justin Olenginski, 15, was born blind and with walking difficulties and special needs, making it impossible for him to participate in school sports, instead enthusiastically cheering on his three siblings and classmates.
“We always felt like Justin missed out on that, and it was always something that we wished Justin could be more a part of and experience,” his mother Angela Olenginski told ABC News.
So the school decided to do something about that. After halftime on Saturday, the game’s announcer called Justin--who was the team’s honorary captain that day--onto the field where the teams were lined up at the 5-yard line. With the help of his older brother, Michael, 17, a senior at the high school and the football team’s captain, Justin took the quarterback’s handoff and ran in a touchdown (which did not count toward the score of the game).
“Both teams cheered him on and gave him a handshake and hugged him and his brother picked up him and carried him off the field with his team walking with him. It was tremendous,” Dallas High School Principal Jeffrey Shaffer told ABC News. “It was an opportunity to really show what we’re all about here at Dallas. It’s a special place, a special community, and it was really one of those defining moments for showcasing what our school is all about and really putting the limelight on a very special young man and his family.”
Angela Olenginski said it was a night Justin will not soon forget, with a standing ovation from the crowd and fireworks and a cannon going off after the touchdown.
“He heard the crowds calling his name and the fireworks and everything, so he really got to experience that moment. It was pretty exciting for us and for Justin,” she said. “I think just everybody making a big deal about him was the most exciting part for him. He’s been through a lot, and so this is a pretty big deal and a really happy moment for our family and for Justin to experience.”