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EMU hosts first Victory Day at collegiate level PHOTO GALLERY

  • The Eastern Michigan University football team hosted Victory Day last Friday at Rynearson Stadium. 25 kids with special needs, along with one adult,took part in football drills and each scored two touchdowns in a game-like setting. It was the first time Victory Day was held at the collegiate level. Photo courtesy of EMU Athletic Department
  • The Eastern Michigan University football team hosted Victory Day last Friday at Rynearson Stadium. 25 kids with special needs, along with one adult,took part in football drills and each scored two touchdowns in a game-like setting. It was the first time Victory Day was held at the collegiate level. Photo courtesy of EMU Athletic Department
  • The Eastern Michigan University football team hosted Victory Day last Friday at Rynearson Stadium. 25 kids with special needs, along with one adult,took part in football drills and each scored two touchdowns in a game-like setting. It was the first time Victory Day was held at the collegiate level. Photo courtesy of EMU Athletic Department
  • Victory Day was founded by Trenton assistant coach Aaron Segegi in 2010 and has been held on the Trojans's home field every year since. This year's Victory Day is set for Sept. 13. News-Herald file photo
  • Victory Day was founded by Trenton assistant coach Aaron Segegi in 2010 and has been held on the Trojans's home field every year since. This year's Victory Day is set for Sept. 13. News-Herald file photo
  • Victory Day was founded by Trenton assistant coach Aaron Segegi in 2010 and has been held on the Trojans's home field every year since. This year's Victory Day is set for Sept. 13. News-Herald file photo
  • Victory Day was founded by Trenton assistant coach Aaron Segegi in 2010 and has been held on the Trojans's home field every year since. This year's Victory Day is set for Sept. 13. News-Herald file photo
  • Victory Day was founded by Trenton assistant coach Aaron Segegi in 2010 and has been held on the Trojans's home field every year since. This year's Victory Day is set for Sept. 13. News-Herald file photo
  • Victory Day was founded by Trenton assistant coach Aaron Segegi in 2010 and has been held on the Trojans's home field every year since. This year's Victory Day is set for Sept. 13. News-Herald file photo
  • Victory Day was founded by Trenton assistant coach Aaron Segegi in 2010 and has been held on the Trojans's home field every year since. This year's Victory Day is set for Sept. 13. News-Herald file photo

Victory Day was founded by Trenton's Aaron Segedi in 2010

Four years ago, Trenton assistant football coach Aaron Segedi created Victory Day; a chance for physically and cognitively disabled children to spend a morning playing football.

Segedi, 36, also founded the event so that his athletes could learn the virtue of selflessness and the importance of community service.

The Victory Day idea eventually caught on at other high schools and has now spread to the next level.

Last Friday, 25 children with special needs, along with one adult, were invited to Eastern Michigan University’s Rynearson Stadium for the Eagles’ inaugural Victory Day. It marked the first time a Victory Day was put on by a college team, Segedi said.

Most of the participants were from Washtenaw County, but students from Wyandotte’s Josephine Brighton Skills Center and the Madison Center were also invited. Participating from Downriver were Gage Keathley, Dylan Hunter and Josh Wood.

Led by EMU players, along with first-year head coach Chris Creighton and his staff, all invitees had a chance to do individual football drills on the field, as well as each score two touchdowns in a game-like setting, complete with cheerleaders and referees.

Prior to that, participants got to walk through the stadium’s tunnel, one-by-one, and were introduced while his or her bio was put up on the stadium’s big screen. Each invitee also was given a medal by the team.

“It’s a win-win day for everybody,” Segedi said. “They were making these kids feel like they were on top of the world.”

An EMU Victory Day 2015 is already being planned, he said, and will likely accommodate more participants.

To first introduce the Victory Day concept to Creighton, Segedi asked Roosevelt coach and EMU alumnus Ron Adams to pass the information along to him. Adams played quarterback at EMU from 1984-87 and today emphasizes virtues and community service to his players in Wyandotte.

Segedi said he was aware that the Eagles’ new head man shared the same philosophies.

“I knew Chris Creighton teaches a lot of the virtues and character development skills that some college football coaches don’t, so I knew this would be right up his alley,” Segedi said. “Once he looked at it, he loved it.”

While EMU was the first collegiate program to put on a Victory Day, it won’t stop there.

Segedi said that University of Toledo will host its own Victory Day in August and a combined 28 teams, both high school and college, will put one on this year.

The Victory Day concept was first thought up by Segedi after he had personally suffered through two separate bouts with cancer and a liver transplant. In 2013, he was diagnosed again with cancer and beat it.

The selfness of his sister Rhonda, who donated 70 percent of her liver to him, along with the support he received from so many others, ultimately inspired him to respond in the best way he knew how.

“I kind of looked at it, as a football coach, what we could do to give back because I was so blessed to have the community that supported us and my family during my trials with my health,” he said.

After Segedi and the Trenton staff put on a Victory Day in 2010, its popularity quickly spread and soon it garnered local, regional and national attention.

Other high schools throughout the state began doing it, as well as teams in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky.

Former University of Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr has participated every year in Trenton and before the 2012 event took place, Nike Team Sports agreed to provide special Victory Day jerseys to the participants.

Normally, about 50 kids with special needs are invited to Trenton for Victory Day and they partner up with either a football player or a cheerleader who serves as their mentor for the event.

Several other Downriver-area football teams have also been a part of Trenton’s Victory Day.

Players from schools such as Roosevelt, Woodhaven, Anderson, Flat Rock, Riverview and Carlson have all worked alongside the Trojans to provide an opportunity that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.

“They have such a positive impact on these kids, because these kids are not going to be able to play football,” Segedi said. “…All of these other kids are able to strap on the shoulder pads and helmets and play this great game and they’re not.”

This year’s Trenton Victory Day is scheduled for Sept. 13 at 10 a.m. To learn more about it, visit www.victorydayfootball.com

Last Updated: 7/6/2014 12:52:52 PM EST

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