Michael Kelley, a young athlete with special needs whose high school told him to stop wearing his beloved varsity letter jacket because he “didn’t earn it,” got a special treat from a group of San Antonio athletes on Saturday, KSAT (San Antonio) is reporting.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Michael Kelley, who has Down syndrome and autism, participates in a sports program designed for special needs students at Wichita East High School in Kansas. He also proudly wore his beloved school jacket with the school’s letter sewn onto it by his mom, Jolinda. That is, until the school’s principal made him stop wearing it after a parent complained that he didn’t earn the letter like other varsity athletes.
The young man’s story gained international media attention, although the school’s principal would later say that media coverage of the incident was blown out of proportion and that the young man was never told he couldn’t wear his varsity jacket, and that he continues to wear it to this day.
“The incident, if you call it that, happened more than a year ago… [He was] never told to remove his jacket.”
Regardless of the specifics, Michael’s story managed to catch the attention of San Antonio Scorpions owner Gordon Hartman.
“I just thought it was ridiculous.”
Hartman operates the minor-league soccer team on a not-for-profit basis; all profits from the team are donated to Morgan’s Wonderland, an athletic park for people with special needs.
The San Antonio businessman flew the teen and his family to Texas to watch the Scorpions’ season opener, and even gave him a contract, making him an official member of the team, according to Sports Illustrated. He sat on the bench, in uniform, with the players; he was given an honorary ring marking the team’s 2014 championship; and he was given the number 33 – the number he wears on his basketball team.
For Michael, the soccer game was just something to sit through until the real highlight of the weekend: visiting Morgan’s Wonderland.
“(The Kelley family) said that they had been saving money for two years to try to bring Michael to Morgan’s Wonderland, and so when we heard this, it was almost like wow — this is incredible.”
Michael’s mother, Jolinda, says that the outpouring of support her son has received demonstrates that there are good people in the world.
“It is amazing, amazing the outpouring of love from the community and nationwide. It’s incredible. It just proves that there’s a lot of people behind treating everyone equal.”