Zoe Neal has some really good dance moves.
So does Emily Glass.
They were more than happy to teach a few to some Center Grove football players who were eager to learn.
“It’s called the ‘Wobble,’” Zoe said after she and Emily taught the dance, and then performed it with, with several players on the football field. “We’re having a lot of fun.”
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From all appearances, so did all 33 students from Easter Seals Crossroads who participated in Wednesday’s fourth annual Camp-Ability Field Day at Center Grove High School.
On a mild, clear afternoon on the Trojans’ football field, campers spent two hours with the defending Class 6A state champion football team, performing “drills,” playing games, interacting with players and essentially having a great time.
Campers from across the state, each with some form of disability, ranged in ages 4 to 10. They were teamed with groups of players for onfield activities; had lunch with the team; and assembled for a “team” photo at the end of the day.
Leif, a 6-year-old boy whose family preferred not to publish his last name, declared as he sprinted around the field with a group of football players: “I’m having so much fun!”
He wasn’t the only one. Center Grove’s players, more than 100 from the varsity, junior varsity and freshman teams, did, too.
“It’s awesome. It’s a day we look forward to all year, there’s no question about it,” said Parker Ferguson, a senior defensive lineman. “The day is filled with so much joy and happiness.
“We just want to show them a fun time.”
Senior linebacker Sam Bolin regards the camp one of the highlights of the Trojans’ season.
“It’s a dream come true. I love helping the community,” Bolin said. “It’s really a fun time to see these kids light up and have a fun time.
“Even if they’re just walking around, being with the kids is great.”
Center Grove coach Eric Moore agrees, and he, too, embraces the camp as one of the team’s most important annual events.
“I think this might be the best thing we do all summer,” Moore said. “Heck, I usually start crying when the bus rolls up.
“I usually cry until the leave.”
For many of the campers, the yearly visit to Center Grove is something they never forgot and always look forward to.
“For our kiddos, they get to interact with a great group of football players who accept everything about them and make sure that they have a great day,” said Angie Hilligoss, manager of respite services for Easter Seals Crossroads. “They look forward to this.
“Even our kids who aren’t verbally able to communicate to us, when we tell them we’re going to see Center Grove football players, their eyes shine, they clap, they smile, they know exactly where we’re going.”
Upon arrival, campers are greeted individually by varsity players. They escort each through a gauntlet of cheering, clapping teammates en route the “Trojan Helmet,” the inflatable tunnel that leads to the varsity field.
Every camper has his or her name announced on the stadium P.A. system as they pass through the tunnel.
“To see them be able to run across the football field and to hear their name over a loudspeaker and run through the tunnel, those are things that they might not get to experience as they get older,” Hillingoss said. “So to be have that that now can be life-changing for them.”
Life-changing not only for the campers but also for players whose lives are touched just as deeply by giving back to kids in need.
“It’s a passion. I love doing it,” Bolin said. “We don’t like doing because we’re supposed to or need to or are required to, we actually want to go do it.
“It’s the best day of the year, hands down.”