BOISE - The Bishop Kelly football team lost in the 4A state championship game at Albertsons Stadium on Saturday, but in the eyes of an 8-year-old boy, they are true champions.
Moses Briley has faced a lot of adversity in his young life. Born with Down syndrome in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he was adopted by a Boise couple in 2009.
"He was abandoned and so we don't know any family history," said Julie Briley. "Because he was so malnourished and tiny and floppy, they didn't think he would make it.”
"Moses means drawn from the water - rescued from - a name that was so fitting for him,” said Bill Briley.
Now a thriving 8-year-old, Moses recently got the opportunity to become a part of the Bishop Kelly football team, thanks to a Boise-based nonprofit called 4TheAbility, which partners high school teams with local kids with special needs.
The Knights embraced Moses this season, as he tagged along with them all the way to an appearance in the 4A state championship game.
Team embraces boy with special needs
Players and coaches alike say Moses' talent of expressing unrelenting joy is infectious.
"He just makes us want to be better people, because he's happy and it makes us happy," said BK senior linebacker Ben Hruby.
"The first time he smiled, its special," added coach Tim Brennan. "It's unbelievable.”
Justin Jackson, the founder of 4TheAbility, was impressed with how the team went above and beyond in their "adoption" of Moses.
"It’s amazing to see," Jackson said. "I love how much the coaches get involved, and how the whole school comes together to support the kids.”
A weekly fixture at practice with whistle in hand, on the sidelines during games and even taking part in the pregame coin flip, this partnership has even helped Moses overcome his fear of anxiety.
"To be able to bridge that and cross over that barrier of fear had been a tremendous for us as a family," said Bill. "Also seeing that in the players and their acceptance of Moses has been one of those great joys as a parent. It's an opportunity rather than an obstacle.”
An opportunity for Moses to share his positive attitude with others.
"He doesn't just change our world, but he changes the world around him because he exudes joy, he exudes love,” said Julie.
Brennan says Moses has helped to teach his team that there is more to life than football.
"You know there is a lot of important things in life, and football is important, but it's not the most important thing," said Brennan.
The Brileys know that the team's bond with Moses is something special that none of them will ever forget.
"For coach Brennan to be so bold and so courageous as to say come 'please be apart of this' has been tremendous for us,” said Julie.