Zachary Hamilton's doctors said the teenager's Autism would prevent him from ever playing a sport -- the 13-year-old proved them wrong last Thursday.
In the Hamilton Wildcats' final game of the season, the undefeated West Virginia middle school team offered Zachary an opportunity to score his first-ever touchdown. After some determination and some sportsmanship by the other team, the young man took advantage.
Now the picture, showing him kneeling down in the end zone moments after the play, is going viral on Facebook, after his mother shared the photo on talk show host Ellen DeGenderes' page.
"In light of all the bad news circulating around about teachers abusing special needs kids and teens and bullying going around in schools i wanted to share my story of hope and inclusion," Tonya Moyer wrote in the post.
"My 13 year old Autistic son Zachary has played football since he was 8 with almost the same group of boys , he has never been a great player but has always made up for it in excitement ,never give up attitude ,and determination to do everything all the other boys are doing," she continued.
"On thursday Oct 17 of last week it was there last game of the season ... [in] amazement and shock set in as I saw him handed the ball and then he began running for a touchdown with his teamates closely gaurding him , he scored a touchdown , his first ever , and I could see the huge smile on his face even in the stands," the proud mother said in her post.
Moyer told TheBlaze on Tuesday just how the gesture has affected her son.
"Zachary has not stopped talking about that since it happened," she said. "He has been the happiest kid in the world. He sleeps with the ball every night and takes it to school every day in his backpack."
Rob Davis, who has been coaching for 14 years, said Zachary enthusiastically comes to every practice and he wanted to give him the opportunity to run into the end zone.
"He always stays on defense but I said, 'What would be really cool is if he scored a touchdown,'" Davis told TheBlaze Wednesday. "'If we could get him in a game and get him a touchdown, I'm sure it would make his day.'"
Davis explained that he prepped Zachary by practicing with him on the sideline, passing him the ball and having him run forward.
"We tried to get him in the end zone right before half time but it didn't work," he said.
"The coach from the other team came over and said, 'Are you guys trying to get him to score a touchdown?' I said, 'yeah' and he said 'let us try to help you out a little bit,'" Davis said. "He said, 'I'll have my guys back off a bit.'"
"It took us two to three tries, but finally Zach got going and got the idea down and scored a touchdown," the coach said. "His parents had no idea. We didn't really share it with anyone because we wanted it to be as close to normal as we could make it."
"He was really happy," Davis added. "He went around and hugged every kid and I mean he is extremely strong. When he got to school the next day he had the football with him. He has had the football with him every day since."
Moyer said words cannot express how thankful she was that the team gave her that moment.
"The fact that they went through so much trouble to make my son have that moment ... it is just so humbling," she told TheBlaze, on the verge of tears. "I just couldn't express my thankfulness enough that they gave that honor to them. Never in a million years did I expect anything like that."
Moyer said Zachary continues to defy odds and surprise her.
"He just never gives up," she said. "The doctor told me that he could never play a sport. Never catch a ball."
"The fact that he has come so far ... he's my hero."
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