Media Day session kicks off DFRC Blue-Gold football week

NEWARK – Southern Delaware high schools will be well-represented this Saturday, June 23 at the annual DFRC Blue-Gold All-Star Football game at University of Delaware Stadium.

The annual all-star game put on by the Delaware Foundation for Reaching Citizens with disABILITIES, is in its 63rd year of existence.

According to their website, the DFRC is well-respected Delaware foundation dedicated to raising funds and consciousness in support of programs that enrich the lives of Delawareans with intellectual disABILITIES.

High school seniors from across the state of Delaware – including football players, cheerleaders, ambassadors and marching band members – gather for one final football game at UD’s stadium.

The Gold squad prepares to pose for a team photo during Sunday afternoon’s Media Day session at University of Delaware (Sussex Post/Ben Heck).

Leading up to the game, the senior participants are paired up with members of the Hand-in-Hand program, which serves as the centerpiece for the DFRC organization.

Football players, cheerleaders and ambassadors are paired up with a Buddy – a child or young adult between the ages of 4 and 18 years old with an intellectual disABILITY.

“It’s an opportunity for people to sit down and share their story with each other,” said DFRC executive director Tony Glenn. “Everyone benefits. We’re people first – and we recognize that. It’s not like ‘tell me about the disability.’ No one wants to be told what they can’t do, but how do we celebrate what we can do and the goodness of each light? So, in those opportunities, naturally people just come together and give each other their time. That’s all we’re trying to do, is to provide that.

In the months leading up to this Saturday’s game, the senior participants have been attending events with their buddy, including picnics, bowling outings and dance parties. Many of the senior participants have hung out with their buddies on their own time, outside of the DFRC-sanctioned events, as well.

Football players

Sussex Tech’s Nathaniel Showacre and Jason Genshaw, Indian River’s Collin Donaway and Sussex Central’s Josiah Blake will all be representing their respective schools Saturday, donning the Gold uniform and playing in their final high school football game.

Josiah Blake’s buddy, Luke, is a familiar face as he also went to Sussex Central High.

“It’s been a great experience so far,” Blake said, during Sunday afternoon’s Blue-Gold Football Media Day, of the Hand-in-Hand program. “Me and him went to the same school so we were able to see each other a lot. It’s been a humbling experience to be a part of the buddy program.”

Sussex Central’s Josiah Blake poses for his individual photo while his Gold teammates patiently wait for their turn in front of the camera (Sussex Post/Ben Heck).

Showacre and Genshaw, though both Sussex Tech representatives, each have different Hand-in-Hand buddies.

“His name is Garrett Thawley and his mom actually teaches at my school, so I had the opportunity to talk to her before I met Garrett and everything,” Genshaw said of his buddy. “The experience has been great – I think he’s hilarious and he’s a super-smart kid.”

Showacre and his buddy, Avery Cannon, have really been bonding together lately and he’s found the program to be rewarding for both sides.

“She’s definitely teaching me more than I’m teaching her,” Showacre said, with a laugh, about Avery. “It’s very awesome what the DFRC does out here.”

Donaway’s buddy, Yuseff Bartsch, will also be serving as the Gold All-Star buddy.

For Donaway, the whole Hand-in-Hand experience has been truly rewarding the past few months.

“It’s been amazing. Yuseff is an awesome kid – he’s very funny and very outgoing. He likes to be the center of attention,” Donaway said with a laugh. “He’s an awesome kid and it’s been great to meet his family.”

“He has a big interest in the fire company and me and my family are in the Dagsboro Volunteer Fire Company, so I’ve invited him to certain events at the fire station,” Donaway continued. “I had him try on all my gear. One day I got him to come over and we took him on a fire truck ride, showed him around and taught him stuff about the air packs and all the tools.”

Cheerleaders

The Gold cheerleading squad is made up of 25 girls, including a pair of Indian River girls (Kennedy Butch and Brianna Johnson) and a pair of Sussex Tech girls (Brittany Hill and Madeline Scheinder).

Ambassadors

Senior ambassadors for the Gold squad include IR’s Delany Brannon, Fabrea McCray and Samantha Whelen.
Junior ambassadors for the Gold squad include IR’s Grant Argo, Mackenzie Gorey and Patrick Spencer and Sussex Tech’s Alyssa Thawley.

The game

Kickoff is set for this Saturday, June 23 at 6 p.m. at University of Delaware.

Leading up to the game, each team will have practice all week and one scrimmage open to the general public. This Wednesday, June 20 the Gold squad will scrimmage at Milford High from 5-7 p.m.

Opening ceremonies for Saturday’s festivities is set to begin around 5 p.m. inside the stadium.

For more information regarding the DFRC, or this weekend’s football game, check out dfrc.org.

Sports Editor Ben Heck can be reached at bheck@newszap.com.

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