Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The kid with special football powers who's making headlines

You've seen his handsome face before—maybe in the news or in the slideshow of awesome kids I did over the summer, or perhaps on his blog: I Have Cerebral Palsy...So What, I'm Still Awesome! Eighth grader Jack McGraw of St. Charles, Illinois, has been at every game and practice of his school's football team, the Hurricane Haines, in the past two years. Earlier this month, Jack made news when he scored a touchdown in the final minutes of a game.

"I felt so good," Jack wrote on his blog. There were even people crying!!! At first I didn't get why it was a big deal but people said I inspire them and that they are so proud of all the boys for treating me so great. I'm glad if I have made people feel good."

Jack's mom, Jill, shared a letter that the dad of one of the boy's on the team sent the local paper. As he wrote, "A person might think this was just about giving Jack an opportunity he normally wouldn't get. However, it was really just the Hines coaches and team (with the the help of Batavia) saying thank you to a young man who has provided inspiration and support as a teammate all throughout middle school. Contributions to a team can come in a variety of forms and truly transcend the importance of the game itself. Jack has certainly made more than his share of contributions...."

Jack, 13, attends Haines Middle School, studying the same curriculum all other kids do. He uses an ECO2 with eye-gaze technology from the Prentke Romich Company and computer for communicating doing schoolwork.

"I've always felt that to some degree, if you treat a kid like he's just like every other kid, he'll be just like every other kid," says Jill. "We celebrate Jack when he is being his smart, funby, caring self, and he gets in trouble when he's being 'difficult,' just like his sister. Life is wonderful and I just feel so blessed to have two incredible children."

I got the chance to ask Jack a few questions; here's what he had to say.

That was one awesome touchdown! Max loved seeing it. Can you tell me when you first got interested in the game?
I first loved football when I was in first grade and the Chicago Bears played in the Super Bowl in 2007. They lost to the Colts and I was heartbroken!

What sort of things have you gotten to do as a member of the football team?
I got to call plays a few times. I mostly get to be with the team and cheer for them.

What was going through your mind when you were rolling across the field with the football in your hand?
Oh my gosh! I can't believe this is happening.

What are your favorite things to do for fun?
I like to play football and basketball with my friends. I also love to play xBox, watch movies and eat!

What's your favorite subject in school?
My favorite subject is Social Studies. I like it because it is really interesting and it is the easiest.

I love the name of your blog! What things would you like people to better understand about kids with cerebral palsy?
I want people to understand that CP isn't that bad. You can still be a regular kid if people treat you that way. We are just kids with regular feelings, too.

What would you like to do when you grow up?
I know this won't happen but I want to be in the NBA. My mom says I could do it, just not as a player. If that doesn't work out, maybe I will make a disability organization.

Is there a celebrity you'd ever like to meet?
I would love to meet Derrick Rose from the Chicago Bulls!!! He is so awesome. He is the best basketball player and was the youngest MVP ever. He actually replied to me on facebook once. It was so cool. I like him because he's really good but he is humble.

Why do kids with cerebral palsy rock?
We rock because we are awesome! We work hard and like to have fun just like everybody else.

Photos/Jill McGraw


  1. My godfather has CP, and his mom was told when he was born that he would never walk... he also played football in high school, RUNNING up and down the field like a pro. These are feel good stories!!

  2. Holy cow there is so much about this to LOVE - he's a contributor to the team and they celebrate that. This is fabulous. Thanks for sharing!

  3. That's pretty awesome!

    He reminds me of a FEW guys (some with CP and some with spinal cord injury) who were deeply involved with Cal Athletics, even serving as assistance football coaches!

  4. Not much else to say but, this is so awesome and such an inspiration to families with children who have disabilities. Thank you for posting this and for finding these positive stories about our kids.

  5. My daughter is 5 and has CP and reading about Jack makes me so excited about...pretty much everything! I love what he said about why kids with CP rock - he's right, they ARE awesome! Go Jack!!!!

  6. This is awesome! You have such a great attitude and are such a great role model to your teammates, as well as to everyone reading this post. Both of my parents have CP and they have shown me that anything is achievable, so keep working towards your dreams and you can achieve them too! :)

  7. So great. I'm not a football fan, so maybe this isn't a great comparison - but that was the best play in football I've ever seen. And the support of both teams was amazing. That's how sport should be in at school level. Fun & supportive.
    And I will be checking out that blog.

  8. Fabulous job Jack! Keep dreaming big!

  9. Thanks for sharing your story! So exciting about the touchdown and how awesome you've been for the team and how great the team has been for you too. Love your positive attitude. :)

  10. Only one word for you: Unstoppable.

  11. Watching that video gave me goosebumps!! What an awesome kid; what an awesome team. Way to go, Jack, you are truly an inspiration, and you are unstoppable!!

  12. What an awesome dude!

  13. It's clear we all agree: JACK, YOU ROCK! Max and I watched the video again today, several times. You have seriously inspired him, and the many, many other people who saw your touchdown. Score!

  14. Jack, way to go! That was awesome! My daughter is 5 and has CP. Your enthusiasm and heart is such an inspiration.

  15. Jack is truly an inspiration and I love the atitude of everyone involved in this story. What an uplifting read :)

  16. Jack, you're awesome! I'm so glad that you took the time to share your video and answer these questions for Ellen--even though I think social studies is really hard and science is the best subject :)

    My 4 year old daughter is learning to use a communication device to communicate, and I love hearing from another device user--it's really inspiring. I loved watching your video, it made my night!

  17. Jack, you are just awesome! I'm so glad you could take time to share this. I share your video with my son who sometimes struggles to do things and he said to tell you he thinks you're all that and he can keep trying just like you! My sons may not have the same challenges as you but seeing that others have challenges and do amazing things really helped him want to keep on trying. I'm sure my child is not the only one you will help with your amazing attitude. Thank you and God bless!

  18. Jack, your touchdown truly shows that if you put your mind to it, you can do ANYTHING. I look forward to watching the day you are a guest on ESPN Sportscenter...discussing the NBA. :) GO JACK!!

  19. Jack, thanks for being an inspiration for my little boy! Love the support you get from those around you also!

  20. Way to go Jack! Thanks for sharing your awesome touchdown and your thoughts about sports, school and CP. I will show your video to my son William tomorrow. He is 7 years old and has spastic diplegia CP. He sometimes gets frustrated because he doesn't play soccer with his friends at recess but he loves archery and got a bulls eye! He tries to focus on what he can do. You will be an inspiration to him. We will check out your blog too! Congrats to you and your team!

  21. Jack's mom here-thank you so much for all of the wonderfully warm words.

  22. Jack!
    I follow your blog and seeing your touchdown was simply amazing!
    My best friend has CP, we have great conversations, laugh a lot, and even though she cannot speak, we share a lot of ideas, crazy things and opinions!
    I am totally with you that cool people rock... either they have or not a disability!
    Hugs from Mexico!

  23. As a dire hard sport fan with
    cp who never got a chance to be in a team sport in school this is great way to go

  24. Jack, thank you for putting a smile on my face this morning when I saw this. What a great way to start my day. So you have CP but more importantly it doesnt have you. YOU ROCK.

  25. WOW! Thank you all for your wonderful comments. I really want to help other people like me so you made me feel good!


Thanks for sharing!

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