Noah VanVooren has long been happy just to be included in his high school football team, the Little Chute Mustangs of Little Chute, Wisconsin. VanVooren was born with Down Syndrome, a degenerative neural condition, which effects one’s physical and mental development. VanVooren does not play in the field at Little Chute football games, but he is the Mustangs’ longtime Waterboy and honorary team captain.
“He’s always positive, walking on the sideline. He’ll pat you on the back, say you’re doing a great job,” said one teammate.
With their season coming to a close, the Little Chute Mustangs wanted to pay back VanVooren for all the positive energy he had given them over the years. For the final game of the season, VanVooren suited up with the rest of the team.
“I feel good. I’m so happy my parents are here today,” said VanVooren before the game.
He didn’t make his appearance until the last play of the game, when he was handed the ball on a running play. Opposing team Clintonville High chased after VanVooren (okay, they let him score, but they didn’t make it TOO obvious), but to no avail. VanVooren rushed past them all to cheers of “Noah! Noah! Noah!”
VanVooren’s parents were beyond touched that their boy, who wasn’t given much hope by doctors, would be so loved by his community.
“The doctors told us he’d never be able to walk, talk or do anything,” said Noah’s father. “And then to see him 18 years later, to do this is amazing. And to have a community, as Little Chute, to back him up and to love him the way they do is breathtaking. You can’t put it in words.”