Special-needs senior suits up, scores touchdown for West Liberty-Salem

Published: Friday, October 04, 2019 @ 10:04 PM

He has been on the West Liberty-Salem football team since seventh grade, helping out.

Denver Cushman took the top spot of the West Liberty-Salem High School football team’s huddle.

His brother and other teammates arranged for the senior to score a touchdown during Friday night’s homecoming game.

Cushman is a special-needs student, and his mother said she loves the way the team and community have embraced him.

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He has been on the West Liberty-Salem football team since seventh grade, helping out.

“Football’s not one of the Special Olympics, so he lives through watching them play,” Shelly Cushman of Urbana said.

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Watching, but not fully getting in on the action. That is, until Friday night.

First, the team told him he would wear a Tigers uniform, just like all of the other players.

“He’s going to be in full dress, which by the way he’s going to freak out that he gets to finally wear a helmet and shoulder pads,” his mother said.

But he did not know the other surprise that his brother, friends and coaches have been planning for weeks, also getting buy-in from their opponent Triad High School.
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When Cushman suited up for the game, he had no idea he would be scoring a touchdown underneath the bright lights with an entire stadium rooting for him.

“I think the biggest part is watching him be so enthused and  happy for everybody and, you know, for him to get that chance, too … to be excited for his own touchdown,” Shelly Cushman said.