Chiefs provide personal experience for Special Olympics athletes
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - Tuesday was a night to remember for some local Special Olympics athletes. They participated in a Chiefs Fantasy Football Camp at Arrowhead, complete with a surprise coaching appearance by rookies and alums.
Thirty flag football players gathered with their families at 5 p.m. ready to hit the field.
“I’m just excited about getting out there and being active with my friends,” said Special Olympics Kansas athlete Daniel Schnacker.
“He likes to do his moves. He likes to celebrate,” said his dad, Perry Schnacker.
Special Olympics Missouri athlete Trent Lambert was already geeked out from getting a Chiefs branded practice jersey upon check-in. His dad described him as a big fan.
“He held that jersey up and I could see his head getting bigger,” his dad joked.
Lambert puffed out his chest as he walked through the same tunnel the Chiefs do.
“I’d probably just hug him and give him a high five,” Lambert said, when asked what he would do if he met an actual Chiefs player.
Before the one-hour session was over, he’d get to do just that with wide receiver Cornell Powell, who is in his second year on the team.
“It hits home for me,” said Powell. “My cousin, he’s special-needs and seeing his face when he achieves something, I want to give that feeling to everybody.”
When asked what his favorite thing was that night, Special Olympics Missouri athlete Cortez Samana answered simply, “All of the things.”
His dad, Clete Samana, said Cortez is the Chiefs fan in the family. Tuesday’s camp was his first time playing flag football. Until now, his only Special Olympics sport was bowling. He arrived in a wheelchair. His dad held him by the back of his jersey and steadied him on his to the end zone with the football, where Cortez let out a cry of pure glee.
“It’s always a new world with me and this guy. I just love being part of it man. I’m just learning,” said Clete Samana.
The athletes from Special Olympics Missouri, Special Olympics Kansas and YMCA Challenger didn’t know until after warm-up that they’d be joined by Chiefs of today and yesterday. They got a personalized jersey to boot.
And, it wasn’t just the amateur athletes who ended the day with a fuller heart.
“The score makes no difference. It’s the opportunity to compete. And that’s what sportsmanship should be all about,” said former Chiefs running back Ted McKnight. “The absolute essence of competition. Just enjoying it.”
“The love that they have, the pure joy, it’s contagious,” said Powell.
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