Rockets share joy of victory with area special needs students

August 31, 2016 | Athletics, Features
By Paul Helgren

The University of Toledo football program recently hosted its third annual Victory Day for cognitively and physically impaired students from Toledo area schools.

Rain forced the Rockets to move the event indoors to the Fetterman Training Center, but it did not dampen the excitement and fun as about 40 students met UT football players, ran drills, and heard their names announced over the public address system as they scored a touchdown.

Tyler Ruch was hoisted the Rockets following his touchdown on Victory Day.

Tyler Ruch was hoisted the Rockets following his touchdown on Victory Day.

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.

Victory Day athletes wore Rocket team 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.

“This is what it’s all about — a chance to give back and be a part of something bigger than us,” UT Head Coach Jason Candle said. “It’s just a tremendous day for our guys and for the kids. Sometimes I think our guys get more out of this than the kids do.”

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, Rhonda. 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.

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