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Everyone is a Star on Victory Day


Most everybody who loves football probably dreams of being able to take to the field at least once. This Saturday, nearly two dozen very special sports fans will get to hit the turf at Bulldog Stadium for their moment in the sun.

Twenty-two Grandville Public Schools students with cognitive and physical disabilities will be fitted with either jerseys or cheering pompons from 12:30 – 2 p.m. for “Victory Day.” The event is open to the public and admission is free.

Though not an actual football game, the group will run through the tunnel, score touchdowns and perform field drills – all with the same fans, coin toss, announcer, photography and national anthem as a regular game. Each child will be paired with a mentor from the Grandville football or cheer team. After the game, the students will each get a medal to commemorate their victory.

Lani Dohrmann, a lower elementary teacher who works with students with autism spectrum disorder — many of whom have limited language skills — said she’s just as excited for her students’ parents as she is for them.

“I know it will bring (students) joy, and I really think it will bring joy to their parents,” Dohrmann said. “They get to have a day where their kids are the superstars on the field, where all eyes are on them and everyone is cheering for them. This is going to be really special.”

Eric Stiegel, head football coach and special education teacher at Grandville High School, organized the event along with the special education department. Grandville is the 30th high school nationally to host a Victory Day.

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Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a reporter and copy editor, covering East Grand Rapids, Forest Hills and Northview. She is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio or email Morgan.

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