Hello again from the team at the OM@home blog, a blog about children and young people, written for children and young people . . . . For young people just like you, about young people who inspire us here at OM HQ.
Young people like Jason Smith Jr . . . .
Jason is football-crazy . . .
The nine-year-old's knowledge of the game is astonishing. So much so that, although he is still in the fourth grade, his contribution to the Prague Red Devils - the team he serves as assistant coach - is beyond question.
Such is Jason's tactical expertise that, during an important recent game, the head coach - his dad, Jason Sr - let him call all the plays. Needless to say, the Red Devils came out on top - 28-0!
Coaching is great - and Jason, from Oklahoma - relishes his role on the team . . .
But it's playing football that dominates his dreams.
Sadly, this isn't possible because, although his twin brother Jalen ranks amongst the Red Devils' star performers, Jason suffers from muscular distrophy, a disorder that weakens the muscles.
Two months ago, Jason found himself unable to walk. Ever since that fateful day, he has been confined to a wheelchair.
His football dreams shattered, it seemed as though he'd never make it onto the field.
But then Nick Loman stepped in.
Having seen Jason watching from the sidelines and, with the team's latest game all but over (the Red Devils trailed the Shawnee Wolves by 12 points with just 10 seconds remaining), the referee approached the bench and made an unexpected suggestion.
'He'd seen Jason at different ballgames and this time he came up to Jason Sr and suggested he put him (Jason Jr) in the game,' explains mom Miranda. 'He's never been able to do the things the other kids do, running or jumping. It was his dream'.
Jason borrowed his brother's helmet and, having collected the ball, was pushed over the goal line, in his wheelchair, by his best friend. Players from both sides trailed in his wake. He flung down the ball. To his delight, the touchdown stood.
The Red Devils lost that game - an important fixture against fierce rivals - but, for once, no-one cared about the score . . .
'Everyone was just so happy, to get to do that with Jason,' says Jason Sr. 'They'd all do just about anything for him'.
Here at OM HQ, where inspirational stories such as these always strike a chord, we think there are two things to take from this . . .
1) Never give up on your dreams; and 2) Everyone has it in them to do something special for someone else.
Here's to Nick Loman, all the players and coaches from the Prague Red Devils and the Shawnee Wolves and, above all, here's to Jason Smith Jr, who is an inspiration to us all.
We hope you enjoy this short film . . .
We are all connected.