An Alabama high school senior with Down syndrome had a night he won't soon forget last Friday during a preseason football game.
Jake Pratt, an 18-year-old Vestavia Hills student, attended every summer workout and weight-lifting session for the 2017-2018 school year, according to AL.com. He served as the Vestavia Hills High School football team manager for several years, and earlier this month, his parents asked football coach Buddy Anderson if the coaching staff would allow him to suit up for a game.
The coaches agreed, with one stipulation.
"If you're going to dress, you've got to do everything everybody else does," Anderson said he told them. "The kids have the utmost respect for him for being there every day. He's there every day and works hard every day."
So Pratt suited up for the preseason game Friday, and after players on both teams were made aware, he received a handoff in the final play of the game to score a 35-yard touchdown. But even as the touching moment took place, it was the reaction from the players on both teams that caught the coaches by surprise.
"It was one of the most moving things that I've ever seen," said Anderson.
Players from both teams stood up and left their benches empty as they ran onto the field to join Pratt in celebration. His sister, Amy Hyde, caught the moment on video.
My brother, Jake, is 18 & a senior at Vestavia. He also happens to have Down Syndrome. Tonight 2 teams helped to make his dream come true! pic.twitter.com/uLoP3KH8KR
— Amy Hyde (@Amy_Lissa) August 26, 2017
"He was so happy," Pratt's mother, Kathy, said. "Jake will remember this all of his life. It will be a life-changing experience."