JENA, Louisiana (KALB) – A simple play at a local youth football game in central Louisiana turned into a moment no one will soon forget.
The crowd cheered 10-year-old Zade Rutledge as his teammates and coaches helped him rush into the end zone. Zane was born with Down syndrome but has never let that obstacle or a defender stop him from scoring.
“Most kids with Down syndrome don’t play sports and don’t do what he does,” said Zade’s father, Heath Rutledge. “The few who do, experience what he is going through. He hopes he will remember it all his life. »
From an early age, Zade tackled Down syndrome head-on, from horseback riding at six months to playing sports from age three. But what is perhaps most special is that he did it alongside his twin brother Zane.
“Most people don’t really notice that side of Down syndrome, so for everyone it means a lot,” Zade and Zane’s mother Chasity said.
The two brothers now play together at the Bayou Mountain Rams team in Jena, where they have a new group of brothers who have all treated Zade as one of their own. Team coach Blake Davidson said he knew Zade just wanted to be treated like everyone else.
“I love Zade because I’m such a serious person when it comes to it and he brings the light I need to calm me down,” Davidson said. “While I’m delivering my best message, Zade is playing duck, duck and goose, and I have to realize that’s what this is all about.”
Zade’s team makes sure he finds a way to get into the end zone and make a tackle every game. In the ultimate sign of sportsmanship, the two teams come together to help create a memorable moment for the Rutledge family.
In just minutes around Zade, he has an infectious smile, unparalleled energy and a desire to score that touches the heart for all who see.
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