Steve Kelley, Seattle Times columnist, reflects on Ike Ditzenberger, the 17-year-old high school football player with Down syndrome whose touchdown run was captured on video and circulated around the globe. At last count, the Youtube clip documenting Ike’s effort had gotten more than 2.36 million views.
Writes Kelley: Ditzenberger’s touchdown, which he accomplished with the active support of both teams, was “a reminder of everything that is good about sports and about life.” An excerpt:
Ike’s story is about much more than this one football play.
It is a reminder of the infinite capacity of the human heart. It is about Mark Perry’s compassion. It is about the ability of the young players from Lake Stevens to understand the importance of the moment and act selflessly when it would have been so easy to be selfish.
It is about the Snohomish team’s unconditional love of their teammate and about Ike’s parents’ love for their child.
“We’ve seen Ike brighten,” Kay Ditzenberger said. “He no longer sits in the back at the assembly. He’s right there in the front row. Football has elevated his self-opinion. He doesn’t feel different. He doesn’t perceive his handicap. They’ve given him the gift of normalcy.
“They (Snohomish players) set aside the handicap and saw the person first. They recognize the handicap secondly and they accommodate and adapt to that.”