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Football - What It's Really All About
Taking Plays from the Booth
Taking Plays from the Booth
Football - What It's Really All About

I hear my mother telling me that I'll wish for these days back again as well as Kenny Chesney telling me "Don't Blink." As I look at Matthew and wonder where the last 19 years have gone, I realize they were right. Matthew is getting ready to graduate from Radnor High School in Radnor, PA this June and although thankful for so many wonderful things, I think I'm most thankful for the Radnor football program. I've learned football is about far more than records, scoreboards or what happens on the field. More importantly, Matthew has learned that football is about being a team, determination, dedication, perseverance and good old-fashioned hard work. Matthew has spent the last four years on the varsity field and has not missed a single game. No shoulder pads under that jersey that hangs next to his bed every night and no time on the field after that coin toss but as much a member of the team as the starting players. Matthew takes his role on the team quite seriously. He has filled countless water bottles, chased overthrown passes and has been known to give some pretty inspiring pep talks at half time. He's cried after the tough losses and rejoiced at bringing the coveted trophy home after the big rivalry game. Equally, the team has shown unwavering support for Matthew both in and out of school. Each year, they show their support for him and the Down syndrome community at the Villanova University Buddy Walk® which supports The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's Trisomy 21 Center. Matthew is the star of the team even if for only that day. The thunderous roar from the entire student body at the announcement of his name during the pep rally before the big game told my ears to beg for mercy but told Matthew he is part of something special. I still wonder what went on while away at football camp every summer but I've been told, "c'mon mom, what happens at football camp stays at football camp!" What I don't have to wonder about is how the Radnor football coaches and players have impacted Matthew's life. Matthew is confident, happy and has a sense of belonging. He has learned lessons and made friendships that he will carry for the rest of his life. I again hear Kenny Chesney telling me "they didn't let just anybody in that club" and "you mess with one man, you've got us all." I think about those coaches teaching those boys to be men, taking Matthew with them every step of the way - and I'm so very, very grateful.

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Comments (1,000 character limit)

justin blake roberts , United States, MS
10/9/2015 10:24:21 AM
it was a good book

WIlliam Steele, United States, OH
7/30/2015 1:21:15 PM
thank you for sharing your story, my son Tyler had a similar experience with the Rossford OH high school football team, seems like football players by there very nature actually "get it"

Lucia-Anne Haser, United States, IA
3/27/2014 12:24:47 PM
I miss him

Brendan Conway, United States, PA
3/3/2014 3:10:01 PM
Good Job Matt, miss being with you at the apartments program, Great Job with football

Todd Serpico, United States, PA
2/24/2014 7:01:57 PM
Way to go Matthew! RHS is lucky to have you. Great work. Hope to meet you someday.

Kelly Waterman, United States, TX
2/4/2014 9:37:32 AM
Love stories like this! Every football player on that team is equally as changed her son.

Kristen Ressler, United States, PA
2/3/2014 11:10:25 PM
Awesome story. Thank you for sharing.

Honor Jones, United States, PA
1/31/2014 10:46:00 AM
Matthew you are a true inspiration! God bless you! Thank you for all you have done for the Radnor High School Football Team!

Marisa Estevez, United States, PA
1/30/2014 8:19:01 PM
Great story! Thank you for sharing it!

Ian Watts, United Kingdom,
1/29/2014 11:17:46 AM
As an ex-Radnor football player and a brother to somebody with DS, this really brings me a lot of joy. Thank you Matthew for being such a positive and upstanding role model for my little brother! Go Raiders!!

Rosemary Keinath, United States, PA
1/29/2014 5:05:05 AM
Matthew and the Radnor Football Team are both blessed by the love and support they give each other. Thanks for sharing your story.

Bill Graves, United States, PA
1/28/2014 3:05:59 PM
Great story about a fine young man ,family and team!!should inspire us all!!

Ann, United States, PA
1/28/2014 2:51:54 PM
A wonderful example of caring coaches who love to teach!

Judy Cassidy, United States, PA
1/28/2014 1:40:58 PM
What a great story! Thanks for sharing. Love and support can make such a difference!

Jackie Kozel, United States, PA
1/28/2014 1:34:36 PM
Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. How wonderful to see a team truly work together as a family. Congratulations!

Margaret McCloskey, United States, PA
1/28/2014 12:07:27 PM
It is so nice to see such community love and support.

Peggy Pufnock, United States, VA
1/28/2014 11:29:43 AM
Thank you for sharing this wonderful story...

Katelin Pufnock, United States, PA
1/28/2014 11:27:24 AM
Truly amazing!

Tina Abate, United States, PA
1/28/2014 11:17:30 AM
Way to go Matthew and the Radnor Football program! Kudos to mom too!

Alexis Berg, United States, NV
1/28/2014 12:17:34 AM
I miss Matt and the whole Leighton family.

Tim Dilworth, United States, PA
1/27/2014 10:37:11 PM
Any son of Waynes is a friend of mine. That being said Radnor Football is inclusive and for that they are complete winners. It may be a young man like Matthew or another boy who participates, who may not be a star or start, there is a place for those who try. Go get em Matthew!

Maureen Binnig, United States, PA
1/27/2014 2:41:55 PM
Fantastic Story!

Yannopoulos Family, United States, PA
1/27/2014 11:18:48 AM
Matt and Radnor Football have become synonymous. So, it is no surprise that, with Matt, the 2013 version of the team showed the most heart and determination of any Radnor team.

Conwell family, United States, PA
1/27/2014 10:43:36 AM
Matt is an amazing individual who leads by example! Go Matt!!

Steve Russell, United States, PA
1/27/2014 8:13:07 AM
Matt is an inspiration to us all. Always with a smile and encouragement for his fellow teammates. He is a great asset to the team.

Maira Thompson, United States, PA
1/27/2014 7:30:23 AM
The sky is the limit Matt! Congratulations on a job well done.

Michael Busza, United States, PA
1/27/2014 7:12:32 AM
Coach Matt Leighton is a Great Coach, Person and Friend!!! Congrats Coach!!!

lynn hockersmith, United States, PA
1/27/2014 7:06:25 AM
Great story and an awesome family

Joyce DeShan, United States, PA
1/26/2014 8:44:19 PM
What a fantastic story, very inspiring. Congratulations Matt!

Mara Sears, United States, PA
1/26/2014 8:03:04 PM
Wonderful story about Matt and the great students at RES!

Major Family, United States, PA
1/26/2014 6:26:53 PM
A great story - way to go Matt!

Elaine W, United States, FL
1/26/2014 5:19:26 PM
Awesome story, definately brought a tears to my eyes. The true meaning of teamwork, no matter who is on the team! Inspirational =)

Leah McVeigh, United States, PA
1/26/2014 5:14:17 PM
Congratulations Matthew on becoming such a fine young man and teammate! Way to Go Leighton Family, you are the Best.

Shari Lombaroni, United States, NY
1/26/2014 5:10:16 PM
Love this story!! Brought a tear to my eye. Kudos to all involved!!

Elizabeth Chance, United States, PA
1/26/2014 3:41:02 PM
Matthew and the Leighton family are an incredible, I feel so blessed to live in there community and to be able to call them my dear friends. XO

Peg Stachowski, United States, PA
1/26/2014 3:14:40 PM you know you are a very special guy and an inspiration to Room 006 and your football team members and coaches. I am so lucky to work with you!

Allyson Henkel, United States, PA
1/26/2014 2:54:37 PM
Matthew and the Leighton family are in inspiration to our community! We love you, Leightons.

Katherine E. Mc Donough, United States, SC
1/25/2014 10:27:57 AM
Matthew, you are truly an amazing young man and I am proud to be your Grammy. I wish many more blessings for you in your future hopes and dreams. You will always be in my heart. And Susan, your story is heartfelt and beautiful. I love you both with all my heart!!!

Ellyn Katz-Levy, United States, PA
1/24/2014 6:10:30 PM
What an inspiring story from such a wonderful young man. My family has the pleasure of knowing Matthew and his family, and our son, Billy, considers Matthew one of his closest friends. Matthew, you make us all proud!

ShariWerner, United States, PA
1/24/2014 3:17:51 PM
The power of the human spirit is a beautiful thing.....Wishing Matthew continued success.

Maureen Leo, United States, PA
1/24/2014 1:35:26 PM
Beautifully done. It is a blessing to know Matthew and his family.

wendy monaghan, United States, PA
1/22/2014 4:34:42 PM
I remember Matthew from Elementary school. He has always meant so much to me as he has to his football team. When I saw Matthew & Christine before their senior prom I was so impressed by how much the two of them have grown.I love these two young adults and feel blessed to have them as my friends.

Nancy wurster, United States, CT
1/22/2014 3:18:45 PM
Very heartwarming story. Kudos to Radnor

Susan Ruderman, United States, PA
1/22/2014 2:43:26 PM
Job well done Matt Best of Luck We love u Coach Ryan!

Maryellen Kiernan, United States, DE
1/22/2014 2:03:22 PM
This is a wonderful story. Inspiring.....

Carla Reid, United States, PA
1/22/2014 10:25:35 AM
What an amazing young man! RADNOR PRIDE!

Patty White, United States, PA
1/22/2014 9:58:43 AM
Way to go Matthew! Very nice story Susan :) I'll talk to you about using it as a Family Inspiration Story on our new DSIG website once it is up & running.

Marty Connor, United States, PA
1/22/2014 9:37:53 AM
Way to go Matt!

Drew Bowen, United States, PA
1/22/2014 7:05:48 AM
one of the nicest and most well respected person I've ever met.

Chandler Saulisbury, United States, SC
1/21/2014 10:49:05 PM
What a sweet story of a mother's love!

Donna Griffith, United States, KY
1/21/2014 8:34:13 PM
Great story!! Mom you are an inspiration to all Moms!

Shelly Buffington, United States, PA
1/21/2014 8:16:30 PM
Matthew is an inspiration to us all:) Way to go Matthew - Great story mom

Travis Curtin, United States, FL
1/21/2014 7:53:23 PM
Proud Raider '92!

Sylvia Meola, United States, TX
1/21/2014 6:10:02 PM
Great Story! What an inspiration!

Christopher Merken, United States, PA
1/21/2014 5:38:11 PM
Matt is a wonderful kid!

Jacob Bragdon, United States, PA
1/21/2014 3:47:41 PM
Great story!

Megan Latta, United States, PA
1/21/2014 3:43:09 PM
Thanks for sharing this with us! What a wonderful story!

Barbara Leighton, United States, DE
1/21/2014 1:43:43 PM
Thank you Matthew for being the light that shows the way for your little cousin, Luke, who also has down syndrome. We are excited at all the opportunities these boys have in the future and are grateful to all those who are making it possible.

Carol Fleischer, United States, NY
1/21/2014 12:31:25 PM
Go Matt!

susan carvallo, United States, NY
1/21/2014 11:52:16 AM
great story

David McDonough, United States, SC
1/21/2014 11:33:25 AM
I was there the night Matthew was born. I knew then what a special young man he was and have been inspired by his spirit and determination. Although distance and circumstances have kept us seperated, it is without a doubt that Matthews dedication and perserverance is truly the meaning of Team and Love...Matthew, we all miss you and wish nothing but the best for you and your future. UD

maeve pilkington, United States, NY
1/21/2014 11:33:08 AM
What being a teammate really means!!

Henry Richardson, United States, CT
1/21/2014 11:32:14 AM
love this!! there you go matt!

Tina Sciortino, United States, FL
1/21/2014 11:27:42 AM
Great story!!!

Susan Leighton, United States, PA
1/21/2014 11:17:06 AM
I compiled this video for Matthew as a gift at the end of his senior season. The pictures say it better than I ever could.!/photo.php?v=10202452018760239&set=vb.1187301279&type=3&theater

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