Kids & Family

Football Team Plans Sweet Surprise For Teen With Special Needs

They wanted to thank him for being their biggest supporter. Watch what happens.


Every athlete knows there's more to sports than just playing the game.

Members of the Carmel High School football team in Carmel, NY know this well. One of the team's players, Caleb Cleary, is a special needs student. While Cleary didn't play in a single game during the team's 2019 season, his teammates still consider him an asset.

"He attended games, was on the sideline, had his own jersey, and was at every game, home and away," Susan Dullea, Carmel's athletic director, told lohud. "The kids love him, and he loves the kids for sure. He was just as important part of our team as anyone on it."

When Cleary started showing up at every game, the Rams' coach asked him if he wanted to join the team. @CarmelRams

Not only was Cleary at every game, he often gave pep talks in the locker room to keep the guys in a positive mood during stressful games.

"He was just always around, and he was so supportive. It makes you realize what you have in life and that you have people rooting for you," said Will Boalt, the senior captain of the Carmel Rams.

That's why, when it came time for the team to order their letterman varsity jackets, they wanted to be sure that Cleary got one, too.

Cleary got his very own varsity letterman jacket, thanks to his teammates. @CarmelRams

At the end of the season, the team quietly took up a collection and the players each pitched in $6 to buy a jacket for Cleary.

When the jackets arrived last week, the team gathered a crowd of students and faculty together and presented Cleary with his new piece of school pride.

In a video posted to Twitter by the school's principal, Boalt hands over a blue gift bag to Cleary as the students cheer in the background.

"On behalf of the football team, we loved having you at every game this year," Boalt said. "We just enjoyed your presence. So we thought that we'd get you a little gift as you're a member of our team and we appreciate you a lot."

When Cleary opened the gift, he seemed at a loss for words, but the huge smile on his face said it all. His teammates helped him put on the jacket, which was embroidered with his name and the number 35. After, he posed for pictures with the rest of the players.

Cleary's teammates say he's always happy and ready with a high five. @CarmelRams

"When he walked in, he looked so surprised," Boalt said later. "He has a smile that when you see him smile, you want to smile. He looked so happy with what we were doing for him. I don't think he expected that."

What a sweet way to give back to someone who has always been a team player. Kudos to the Carmel Rams for showing Cleary how much his support means to them. Job well done!

Cleary's jacket was personalized with his name and team number. @CarmelRams

How can you start something good?

Inspired by the team's thoughtfulness?


It's always a great idea to show someone how much you care. It probably won't be a varsity jacket, but what about sending someone a bouquet of flowers, a card or a heartfelt email to make their day. There are plenty of ways to show your appreciation for those who support you.


Let's #StartSomethingGood together.

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