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Article of Interest - Inspiration

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TX Athlete With Down Syndrome Scores 99-Yard Touchdown
NBC5i.com, October 19, 2005
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For two years, senior Lyndon LaPlante had only been getting a rep or two at football practice for the Keller Indians and had never seen action in a real game.

The upbeat student with Down's syndrome seemed content to just be part of head coach Kevin Atkinson's football team.

"I could see the passion in his eyes about how he really loved football and loved being around those guys," said Atkinson.

But Atkinson had other plans for the dedicated athlete and wanted LaPlante to take the field in a game.

"He wanted to play more than anything. Watching him compete in the Special Olympics ... I thought at that time, four years ago, that if he sticks with it and keeps having the attitude that he's having, then his senior year I'm going to give him the biggest surprise that we possibly can here," said Atkinson.

The surprise came last Friday night on the Indians home field as Keller took on the Richland High School Rebels. With the help of Richland's head coach Gene Wier and the crew officiating the game, LaPlante was to take the field and run the ball all the way to the end zone.

While the touchdown didn't count in the official recordbooks, that didn't matter to LaPlante.

"He was real excited about it. His words were 'I'm goin in ... I'm goin in'," said LaPlante's father, Don.

So the plan was set: Lyndon would get the ball on the first play of the fourth quarter. What no one could predict was Keller's field position.

The Indians were slated to start their fourth-quarter drive on their own one-yard line, giving Lyndon 99 yards to reach the Richland end zone.

"Everybody was behind me in the stands ... the crowd. They said 'Lyndon, Lyndon ... we want Lyndon, we want Lyndon" said LaPlante.

The crowd pushed LaPlante on to the field with cheers and a standing ovation.

"When he started trotting out on the field I thought, 'I wonder what's going through his mind ... he has to just be so excited,'" said LaPlante's mom, Genni.

At first and 10 from the one, Lyndon got the call he was waiting for and answered with an unbelievable run off the hip of his left tackle. LaPlante ran all the way, 99 yards, into Richland's end zone.

LaPlante's parents were understandably emotional watching their son streak down the field.

"I teared up and then I realized I had to not tear up or I wouldn't be able to see," said LaPlante's mother.

"It was just undescribable really ... it was just a neat feeling," said LaPlante's father.

LaPlante's teammates followed him all the way to the endzone, capping a momentus moment in a young man's life, scoring his first touchdown.

"I carried a 99-yard touchdown. I looked like Emmitt Smith out there," LaPlante said.

LaPlante certainly felt like a Hall of Famer with his one run, one chance to shine and his one moment that will last a lifetime.

     

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