“We get way more out of it than they do. I can promise you that.” – Kirby Smart
In late October, just before the Dawgs defeated the Gators, the team that we get to cheer on each Fall cheered on the participants of ESP. The UGA football team welcomed 130 kids and adults of all abilities (the most yet!) at Bulldogs & Buddies, an exclusive practice where our participants have all of their UGA gear signed, interact with each player and coach, and get to be celebrated and loved for the amazing people, and fans, that they are! Check out a recap video HERE and pictures HERE.
After this amazing night, a mom felt compelled to reach out to the Athletic Association to let them know what an impact it made:
I don’t know if you will ever see this, but I had to try to reach out to you.
My son attended tonight’s Bulldogs and Buddies with ESP. This is his first year participating in a lot of activities thanks to the work that ESP does with our community.
My son is autistic and nonverbal as well as super active and very physical. He likes watching football and basketball due to all of the action. And could be mistaken for an armchair coach with his displeasure when penalties are called, as that just really stops all the action of which he is so fond. I shared all of that to say this: Thank you. No really THANK. YOU. ALL.
From the pictures shared with me, I had the pleasure of seeing my son be treated (and accepted) as just another kid. There aren’t going to be too many of life’s experiences that he will have where he’s treated as just a typical kid. I wish I could thank all of the players and somehow find the words to make them understand how important it is, even for the family but especially to my son, to know there is kindness and acceptance.
Our family has been fans since we moved here 20 years ago; tonight our hearts are fuller and our love for the Bulldawgs, stronger. Thank you to the players that flipped my son upside down, he tries to get everyone to do that with him… you guys just showed him there’s no real reason to stop trying! A special thank you to the player that gave my son their gloves. And thank you for ALL that the Bulldawgs do for our community that reaches far beyond the bleachers of Sanford Stadium. You guys rock! Please never stop doing what y’all are doing!
In the same way the Dawgs created this transformative experience for a participant and his mom, every month you as a Fan Club member create even more transformative experiences. Because of your commitment, you help ESP welcome every kid, of every ability, to engage in our programs no matter what. We are so grateful for your unwavering support in creating these one-of-a-kind moments for our participants to just be kids and be loved for exactly who they are.