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Proviso East Football Team Helps Opposing Student With Autism Achieve Dream

October 30, 2014 03:25 PM
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© Still from video posted on ESPN.com
It had been a tough season for the Proviso East High School football team going into its final game on October 24 at Leyden High School in Northlake, but the student-athletes showed that they were winners as they helped an opposing player with autism achieve his dream of scoring a touchdown in a varsity football game.
 
Josh Padilla, a senior at West Leyden High School, is autistic. According to a story that ran on October 26 in the Chicago Tribune, Josh took a handoff from his quarterback and ran 66 yards to the end zone in a play coordinated with the Pirates’ coaching staff, including head coach, Mr. David Odom. The Proviso East defense ran after him, cheering him on the entire way and celebrating when Josh reached the end zone.
 
The touchdown did not count toward the final score of the game, won by Leyden, 49-9. However, since the game, the story has gone viral. Along with Michael Stainbrook’s story in the Tribune, video of the run has appeared on the websites of USA Today and ESPN.com, among others, gaining the praise of those who view it.
 
"This could have never happened without the tremendous sportsmanship demonstrated by Proviso East," said Mr. Jason Markey, principal at East Leyden High School, in an email to Mr. Tony Valente, principal at Proviso East, and other principals in the West Suburban Conference, to which Proviso East and Proviso West belong.
 
Mr. Dan Padilla, Josh’s father, thanked Mr. Valente, Mr. Odom, and the Proviso East football team in an email to Mr. Valente and District 209 for supporting his son.
 
"It speaks volume of the character of the team and coaches," Mr. Padilla said in the email. "It was especially heartwarming seeing in the video your players celebrating the accomplishment along with Leyden. I really wanted the Board to know what outstanding young men you have on the Pirates football team."
 
Mr. Valente said that he was equally proud of the Proviso East players.
 
"It was a great show of sportsmanship," said Mr. Valente, who attended high school at Leyden with Josh’s mother, Mrs. Kim Padilla. "I would like to thank our football coaches and players for a perfect example of sportsmanship and for making us proud."
 
Way to go in helping to Keep Proviso Rising, Pirates! 
 
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