One final horn meant state championship celebration time for the Dora Falcons.
It’s a celebration which included a very special teammate.
“He’s our honorary team captain and all of us consider him a part of the team,” said Dora sophomore Jake Freiman.
Dora superfan and team captain Damon Emery joined his Falcons in hoisting the state basketball trophy, and giving out fist bumps.
“Forever, he’s always wanted to be in the limelight and so he enjoys that,” said Damon’s mom Teri.
“We see people we don’t even really know and they’re like oh hey I’ve seen your boy on TV or at the game, and it’s just like oh wow. He lives it up, you know, he’s a ham,” added Damon’s dad Jeremy.
Those same kinds of fist bumps started this bond in the hallway a few years ago.
Now, it’s an unbreakable friendship between a boy with Down syndrome and a state champion basketball team.
“He goes through struggles every day with his Down syndrome,” Jake said. “And it just shows that anybody can do anything.”
So when Damon celebrated his 9th birthday last week, the Falcons arranged a surprise visit.
“Everyone that could be there, some at had work, but about the whole team was there,” Jake said.
The surprise was organized by a few of Damon’s favorite players, including Jake.
It’s fitting, because Jake’s mom, Kim, works as Damon’s one on one aide.
“Damon has the biggest heart of any little boy that I’ve ever met in my life,” Kim said.
For Kim and for Jake, Damon is family, because he’s the one who helped them through their toughest time.
“My husband was killed in a car accident in December of 2018, it was 12 days before Christmas,” Kim said.
When that Christmas break ended after Luke Freiman’s accident, Kim and Jake weren’t ready to return to school.
It was Damon who helped them get there.
“Teri reached out to me and said Damon really missed me and missed Jake,” Kim said. “In a really, really difficult time, he gave us a purpose. [He gave] both of us a purpose to come back.”
It was an example of Damon’s vibrant personality shining a light onto others.
“He’s an amazing little man, who teaches love to everyone that he touches,” Kim said.
It’s an example we can all follow. It’s an example set by a champion.