This is a story that you may not have heard of. Colin Thompson isn’t a professional athlete… in fact, when he befriended John Shulby, Colin was still in middle school. John is a huge football fan, who happens to have been born with Down syndrome. However, his heart and passion for football is unmatched. The two met when they were in the eighth grade, when Colin was assigned to be John’s buddy at a track meet.
As Thompson transferred to Archbishop Wood, a different high school, the two remained close. The entire Shulby family followed Colin’s football career and attended his games. Colin’s high school started a program called Athletes Helping Athletes, and Thompson took an active role by helping John become an honorary captain of the football team.
In an interview with Jamie Newberg and ESPN.com, Kathy Shulby said, “John goes on the field and participates in the coin toss with the captains. They play golf together. It’s a friendship that we never expected, and it’s one of the best things to ever happen to John. It’s not just the friendship and acceptance with Colin that’s so great, but also with his teammates. It’s truly been an unbelievable and wonderful experience.” John Shulby has continued to grow with the team, as he has been promoted to an Assistant Coach role.
This relationship is just as important to Colin, as he said that John is an inspiration to the entire football team. The two are more than just friends- they are family. Steve Devlin, the Archbishop Wood coach, encourages his players to be active in the community. Devlin is big on giving back, saying “I want our players to realize just how fortunate they are, and I want them all to do some big things out there. They all need to make an impact, and you can see the happiness they bring to other people. It’s life changing.”
The story doesn’t end here, as Shulby attended the Under Armour All-America game in 2012 in support of Colin. Serving as the ball boy during practice and the game, many of the players naturally gravitated towards him due to his uplifting spirit. According to Intersport, a sports marketing agency that owns and operates the Under Armour All-American game, Shulby will be joining them again in December for the 2015 game.
In light of all the recent issues in football, this is a heartwarming story that shows how impactful it can be to give one’s time. You don’t need to be a famous athlete to make a positive difference in someone’s life. To watch the video of Coach Devlin surprising Shulby with his honorary ball boy jersey in front of his family, friends, and teammates, please watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zn_8vO_-SBA&feature=youtu.be
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