A heartwarming video of a 7th grade wrestling match in Tennessee has gone viral on the Internet, with more than 100,000 “shares” on Facebook since being uploaded roughly one week ago.
The video shows Jared Stevens, described by the Tennessean as “an extrovert with cerebral palsy,” and his opponent Justin Kievit, in an usual pairing.
Stevens, who reportedly has the physical abilities of a 6-month-old but an intellectual ability close to his age level, is laid on the ground, unable to stand on his own. Kievit bends down to shake his outstretched hand, and begins fake wrestling with Stevens as the match begins. As the crowd cheers, Kievit pulls Stevens’ arm over himself, struggling all the while, and allows a beaming Stevens to win the match.
The Huffington Post has more on how it all happened:
“Jared just likes to do stuff like everybody else,” [his father] told the Franklin Home Page. “There’s a limit to what he can do, but something like wrestling, he can do that as much as he can do. He just enjoys being out there participating. He doesn’t mind trying anything.”
Clay Mayes, Jared’s wrestling coach, said that the 13-year-old practices with his school’s wrestling team every day.
When Jared expressed that he wanted to participate in a wrestling match, Mayes said he called his friend Randy Stevens (no relation), a coach at another middle school.
“It wasn’t about weight class,” Mayes told the Tennessean. “I told him to point me toward the kid who has the kindest heart.”
Here’s the video:
The Tennessean interviewed other boys from the team, who said that Stevens cheers them on at every match. Kievit is the team’s captain– a rare accomplishment for a 7th grader.
The Tennessean continues:
“I was a little nervous,” says Justin [Kievit], who had no idea how many shares the video had until a Tennessean reporter told him. “Then I kind of figured out what to do.”
“It’s a little overwhelming to say the least,” says Craig Kievit, who thought just friends and family might look at the video.
“I watched it over and over again,” he says.
Stevens’ father is an engineer, and says he always tries to fashion ways for his son to try new things. He’s even gone ziplining with the Boy Scouts.
“Made me tear up,” one commenter wrote. “Can you imagine what that meant to the boy and his family?!” Others wrote how proud they were of both young men.
Here’s the Tennessean’s insider look at the wrestling team, and Stevens’ role:
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