Luke Barlow, 14, a student at Warren Woods Middle School, teamed up with senior offensive lineman Josh Pickett of the Warren Woods-Tower varsity football team for Victory Day Friday night.


EVANS: Warren Woods-Tower football team hosts Victory Day TOUT VIDEO

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The Statue of Liberty.

“Give me your tired, your poor,

…I lift my lamp beside the golden door. ”

The Declaration of Independence. The Constitution. Despite this country’s problems, we still offer more opportunities than anyone else.

Sometimes, though, circumstances get in the way of those opportunities.

Jacob Skowronski, 14, was born with muscular dystrophy. The condition has left him in a wheelchair.

“He’s a big sports fan,” said his dad, Mike. “He watches the Lions’ games every Sunday with his Uncle Joe and myself. Joe’s my brother, and he always gives Jacob a hard time about the Lions. Jacob gives it right back to him.”

Jacob is a student at Warren Woods Middle School.

Circumstances mean he’ll never be Calvin Johnson, his favorite player. He’ll never be Nate Burleson or Reggie Bush. While Jacob could certainly achieve greatness, it will not be on the football field.

That is just where Jacob was Friday night. He was on the natural grass of the football field at Warren Woods-Tower. He was one of 40 or so young men and women who deal with a disability. Each was partnered with a player from coach Mike Mahar’s varsity football roster.

Jacob’s teammate was Tyler Vargo, a junior linebacker/fullback, for the Titans.

“The coach came up with the idea,” said Vargo. “It’s great to see all of these kids here tonight. We take so much for granted, don’t we?”

It was called Victory Day, and the evening proved that wins on the scoreboard are hardly the most important ones in life.

Everybody warmed up for a few minutes to start the evening. Then they went to one of a handful of stations on the field. They passed a football through a truck tire. They kicked the ball through the goal posts. They blocked, they ran or wheeled, they zigged and zagged.

The evening culminated with all of the honored guests scoring a touchdown. Every last one of them got to enjoy the experience. When they arrived at the end zone, they were definitely well-prepared. During a running backs drill earlier in the evening, once they traversed around the foam pads, they had to spike the ball. And then they engaged in their own autographed version of a touchdown dance.

Smiles were wide. For the varsity players. For the varsity coaches. For the special guests.

Josh Pickett is a senior offensive lineman for the Titans. His personal teammate Friday night was Luke Barlow, another 14-year-old middle school student at Warren Woods.

“I can tell Luke is a natural athlete,” said Pickett. “He’s shown me that tonight.”

Something else Luke, Jacob and everyone else dealing with a disability showed everyone Friday; opportunities should not be wasted. They should never be taken for granted.

“Luke deserves to be on this field,” said Pickett. “All of the people here deserve to be on it.”

That is a point that Coach Mahar wanted to make.

“We are calling it Victory Day. These are some of the students right in our school. We wanted to get them out here and let each player score a touchdown. It does two things; it gives those kids a night of their lives and secondly, it teaches our kids how blessed and privileged they are,” said Mahar.

The marching band was in the stands for accompaniment. The cheerleaders were on the track for encouragement. The Welcome Mat was out, and isn’t that what the Statue of Liberty is all about?

Last Updated: 10/14/2013 3:52:31 PM EST