N.C. State’s Carter-Finley Stadium was filled with cheers, music and touchdown celebrations Tuesday evening.
But it was the Wolfpack football players who were doing the cheering as part of “Victory Day” for people with Down syndrome.
Victory Day was started in 2010 in Michigan and “set up for cognitively and physically impaired children to have an opportunity to play football or cheer and have their ‘moment in the sun,’” according to its website.
Thirty-five participants with Down syndrome were cheered on by the NCSU players as they ran down the Carter-Finley tunnel and out onto the field as they were introduced.
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After doing drills, participants got in the huddle, lined up on the 10-yard line and with the offense blocking for them, ran the ball in for a touchdown. They then celebrated with the players, cheerleaders and the band.
“It has been like, the night of my life,” said Sophie Pacyna.
Caroline Tate, site manager at GiGi’s Playhouse Raleigh, a center for those with Down syndrome, said, “There was so much love and happiness and genuine respect. I was thankful the community saw how inspiring our individuals are when people believe in them beyond a Down syndrome diagnosis.”
The day was equally special for the Wolfpack players.
“This is the best thing we’ve ever done,” said senior punter A.J. Cole III in a tweet from N.C. State football Tuesday night.