PAOLA, Kan. — A high school student with autism and a love for football got to fulfill his dream Friday when he ran for a 94-yard touchdown.
Several years ago, Sam Roberts’ life changed when a traumatic brain injury left him diagnosed with a high-functioning form of autism, his family told FOX4. He was only in 8th grade at the time.
Since then, Sam has worked hard to pursue his love of football. He couldn’t play his freshmen year because of the injury, but the doctors finally cleared him for action the next year.
“He went back his 10th grade year and worked hard to be the best player he could,” his mother, Terresa Roberts, said in a message. “He did not miss any summer conditioning and lost weight to get in better shape.”
Though Terresa Roberts said Sam doesn’t get much playing time due to his disability, she said the coaches and teammates all came together over the years to help Sam be a part of the team.
“He has a heart of a lion,” Jason Hedges, who shot video of the touchdown, said in a message. “This was an amazing act of kindness and shows us all what life is really about.”
This year, a senior, Sam was able to make his dreams of becoming a quarterback and scoring a touchdown come true. With the help of both Paola and Ottawa high school teams, Sam got the ball and ran down the field, scoring a touchdown.
In the video, you can see Sam take off down the field as referees work hard to keep up. Both sides cheered.
“When I heard the student section on the Paola side chanting his name I couldn’t control my tears! It was just an amazing experience all around,” Terresa Roberts said.
Ottawa’s football team is coached by Rob Hedrick.