Danny Keefe suffered a serious brain hemorrhage when he was born, and his parents were told he'd be severely disabled physically and mentally.
Now six years old and a kindergartner, Danny's beating the odds, the Enterprise in Brockton, Mass. reported.
Not only that, he's the official "water coach" for the Bridgewater (Mass.) Badgers Div. 5 Peewee football squad...and is a dapper dude to boot, sporting a suit and fedora to classes at Mitchell Elementary School as well as on the sidelines.
And he's bonded big-time with the players, all of whom are several years older.
One thing that nags at Danny is a condition called "childhood apraxia of speech" (CAS) which makes speaking difficult, the Enterprise reported.
Unfortunately Danny was getting teased because of his speech difficulty, the newspaper noted, getting his hat pulled down and called demeaning names.
But when the football players found out, they took action.
Quarterback Tommy Cooney, 11, decided he'd wear a suit to school just like Danny in a show of support, the Enterprise said.
“He’s such a good person. He doesn’t let it bother him. He goes on with his day. He’s a 6-year-old kid. We should all respect that,” Tommy declared.
Then Tommy told his teammates about “Danny Appreciation Day,” they were all in agreement that it was a winner of a plan, so they all dressed up last Wednesday.
In fact, more than 40 students dressed up that day and swarmed around Danny and cheered his name.
When Danny used to come home crying after being teased, his mother told the Enterprise she hoped his last thought at night wasn’t about being picked on.
“With this act of kindness," she said of the team's appreciation day, "I hope he thinks of that as he goes to sleep."
“This is the best day ever,” Danny told the Enterprise.
CAS is a motor speech disorder in which the brain has trouble coordinating the muscles to say the words the person knows he or she wants to say, the newspaper reported, adding that Danny has received intensive speech therapy that's made a big difference.
Regardless the players on the football team seem to understand Danny just fine. Jimmy Peterson, 11, sums up their bond: “The coach calls us a band of brothers. He’s one of us.”
Here's the touching report from WCVB-TV in Boston. (Content warning: the tribute from Danny's friend at about :40 will likely put a huge lump in your throat; he's seen in the below preview image):