Michigan Football Team Votes to Make Teen With Autism an Honorary Member

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The junior varsity football team took the field at St. Louis High School, with a new member.

A high school junior varsity football team in Michigan voted to make one of their biggest fans an honorary team members on Sept. 25, 2014. (Credit: WNEM)

A high school junior varsity football team in Michigan voted to make one of their biggest fans an honorary team members on Sept. 25, 2014. (Credit: WNEM)

Craig Lancaster, 14, has been put on the team, despite not being able to play. His mom said it is all thanks to the kindness of his teammates. The fall pastime plays out every week in Mid-Michigan.

Thursday’s game was a moment unlike any other for football fanatic Craig.

He is a freshman at St. Louis High School and has always wanted to be on the field alongside his best friends, but autism doesn’t allow him to play.

Last week those friends took a vote and named Craig an honorary team member.

“When we gave him his jersey, it was the biggest smile I’ve ever seen in my life. So exciting, so it’s one of the best moments in my life to see him out here right now,” said Ernie Diaz, teammate.

Craig’s mom was happy with the team’s decision.

“I cried, like a baby. I cried like a baby because this is what he’s always wanted. He’s always wanted to part of the team with his buds, he wants to be out on the field playing, he just knows he can’t,” Marcy Bissonnette said.

Making the plays or just cheering for them didn’t matter for Craig. He just enjoyed being on the sidelines.

“It’s great to have Craig down on the field because he’s a great inspiration to our team and it’s just great to have him around,” said Dylan Weller, classmate.

Craig was wearing number 42, and that 42 is special. Last week, one of the players was wearing that on the field and gave it up. He said Craig wearing it on the sideline makes him feel like he’s more a part of the team.

“I was 42 and I gave it to him so it’s kind of cool knowing that,” said Dylan McCloskey, classmate. “Well, we can tell he wants to be out here with us, but he can’t. So I figured, we figured, this was the closest way to getting him out here.”

It’s this team’s determination that makes this story even more special. These boys, young men in the making, are taking the initiative to do the right thing.

“When they do things to make you feel proud and make you think of the big picture of why we do athletics and we’re a part of a school system and the big picture, this is outstanding stuff,” said Scott Hemker, athletic director.