HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. (CBS4) – Ed McCaffrey’s “Dare To Play” camp for children with Down syndrome has become a rite of early summer in Denver, and nobody has more fun playing the game of football.
“We weren’t sure what we were getting into year one, but I tell you what, the campers captured our hearts,” McCaffrey said. “It’s one of the most fun things I do all year long.”
The camp was held last Saturday at Valor Christian High School in Highlands Ranch. Former Broncos defensive back Brian Dawkins and current Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio were special guests of the camp.
“Today is all about having these young people who are maybe disadvantaged in some ways; have them come out and be a part of it — just compete and have fun,” Del Rio said.
“When you step out on that field and start running around, it’s not about disabilities … it’s about having a good time,” Dawkins said.
One camper named Brenden said it makes him feel like he’s back home where he can play and he was having a lot of fun.
Campers learned the fundamentals of the game of football and practiced blocking, throwing, catching and running, all without contact.
At halftime the Denver Broncos cheerleaders treated the campers and spectators to a performance with the help of some young cheerleaders with Down syndrome.
“The cheerleaders look hot!” Brenden said.
Cheryl Stockham said the camp has helped her daughter more sociable.
“She speaks to people, she’s excited,” Stockham said. “A couple of years ago she wouldn’t have got onto the field and done that. She would have been too shy and just wouldn’t have done it.”
“She actually is a little bit of a hambone, so to give her this platform to get out here and perform in front of crowds; she eats it up,” another mother said about her daughter.
“Obviously I’m biased but I think football is the greatest team sport in the world. You’ve got people from all different walks of life that come together and work hard with each other towards a common goal,” McCaffrey said. “So you’ll see our campers high-fiving and celebrating and making friendships today.”
McCaffrey said it’s great to watch others come to pick up a player who has fallen down.
Learn more about the organization at the Dare To Play website.