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How a Game of Catch With a Boy With Down Syndrome Changed This NFL Player's Life

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NFL player Brandon McManus spent a day in November of 2014 playing catch with an 11-year-old boy with Down syndrome, and it changed his life. Inspired, the Super Bowl champ has now founded an organization to tackle bullying.

Boy with a Bronco's shirt on

Home video shows 11-year-old Ryder Braden playing ball with McManus, the kicker for the Denver Broncos. Ryder was being bullied by neighborhood kids when his mom reached out to the Rocky Mountain Down Syndrome Association for help. The organizers had the idea to reach out to McManus, as Ryder is a huge Broncos fan, Fox 31 Denver reported.

McManus showed up at Ryder’s house, and, wearing his Broncos gear, played catch with Ryder in the front yard where the whole neighborhood, including the boys who’d been bullying Ryder, could see. Hillery Braden, Ryder’s mom, said he gained confidence from the encounter.

Their interaction also left a lasting impression on McManus, who later started the Anti-Bully Squad, an organization that takes a stand against bullying through education, awareness and prevention.

“I’ve played in big football games in my career, but just seeing his smile on his face and his mom’s face, it’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever [done] in my life,” McManus says in the video below.

McManus’s Anti-Bully Squad is still in its early stages, but McManus, and his childhood friend who he started the organization with, hope to see it grow.

Get more on the story from the video below:


Have you seen the first film with a national release to star a person with Down syndrome? Check out the film “Where Hope Grows” today!

Available for purchase on Amazon and iTunes.

Originally published: February 15, 2016
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