LITTLE CHUTE - It was senior night in Little Chute Friday. And as the football team took the field, the water boy had the chance he’d been waiting for.
Number 14 for the Little Chute Mustangs strode out with the confidence of a seasoned veteran Friday night.
And while he’s served up Gatorade on the side lines for years, it was senior Noah VanVooren’s first time ever in pads and a helmet.
“It feels pretty good. I am a big senior now. I’m so happy. My parents are here today and we have a big night tonight,” said VanVooren, beaming from ear-to-ear.
VanVooren has Down syndrome. Yet on this field, he’s always been one of the guys.
“He’s always positive. Walking down the sideline he’ll pat you on the back and say you’re doing a great job,” said senior fullback Chet Pereenboom.
His teammates said they wanted to repay him. So they and the whole town had an even bigger surprise waiting for VanVooren on the chilly October night.
As the clock ticked down in the fourth quarter and the final home game came to a close, there came time for just one play.
It was VanVooren’s turn to take the ball.
The Clintonville Truckers let him through.
And away ran number 14, flanked by his teammates, down the field, all the way into the end zone. His first touch down.
It was only an honorary touchdown, and didn't count in the score. But you wouldn't known it.
"I feel great!" VanVooren gasped, out of breath. "I scored a touchdown. It was great."
As the crowd erupted, many were visibly moved by the sportsmanship.
None more than VanVooren’s parents Kara and Todd.
“He was born 18 years ago and the doctors told us he would never be able to walk talk or do anything. And then to see him 18 years later, it’s amazing. It’s amazing. And to have a community like Little Chute to back him up and to love him the way they do, you can’t put it in words,” said Todd VanVooren, as tears streamed down his wife’s face.
For it turns out, the young man who first suited up in his last game, had always been the MVP in their hearts.
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