The UT football program hosted its fourth annual Victory Day for special needs students from Toledo area schools Aug. 19 in the Glass Bowl. Participating students met UT football players, ran drills, and heard their names announced over the public address system as they scored a touchdown.
Victory Day is an opportunity for special needs students to have their moment in the sun on the football field. Each student was partnered with a UT football player who served as his or her mentor for the day. The young athletes wore Rocket jerseys and were presented with medals at the end of the day to commemorate their victories.Toledo football players, cheerleaders, Rocky the Rocket and UT Marching Band members also were on hand to cheer on the participants.
“It certainly is a fun day for our players and for the kids in the community,” said Head Coach Jason Candle. “We get to share a meaningful experience with these kids. Our players really love to do it. We’re in the middle of preseason camp, and sometimes players can start to feel a little sorry for themselves — they’re in pain or their legs hurt. But this is an eye-opening experience. Our players our blessed to have their opportunities. This is a great reminder of that and a great way to give something back to the community.”
Senior wide receiver Cody Thompson added, “Just being with these kids and making their day a little bit better is awesome. It’s always good to give back and put a smile on someone’s face.”
Victory Day was started in 2010 by Aaron Segedi, a teacher and football coach from Trenton, Mich., a cancer survivor whose life was saved thanks to a liver donation from his sister. Since then, the Victory Day program has been adopted by high schools and universities in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.
The Rockets first celebrated Victory Day in 2014.