PORT ALLEGANY — When Jadon Archer ran down a football field to score a touchdown, it was a moment that not only will be cherished by his family, but also by the community.
That’s because 9-year-old Jadon of Port Allegany, has physical limitations that have prevented him from playing contact sports such as football, which is a game he loves. While Jadon hasn’t been able to play on the field with his Port Allegany Youth Football pee wee teammates, he has served as a manager on the team, coached by Cliff Fillhart.
It was Fillhart who first approached Jadon’s parents, Doug and Vallerie Archer, a couple of weeks ago about their son taking the ball down the field for a touchdown during a game against the Bolivar-Richburg, N.Y. pee wee team.
A fourth-grader at Port Allegany Elementary School, Jadon has been diagnosed with Noonan syndrome, a genetic disorder that can cause physical limitations. That hasn’t prevented him from joining in on activities with his peers such as pee wee football where he practices with the team and does drills, but can’t play during the games. Fillhart said Jadon also admires and looks up to his older brother, Noah, who plays varsity football for Port Allegany High School under Coach Justin Bienkowski.
Archer said when Fillhart asked him and his wife if they were OK with the touchdown event for Jadon, his wife wondered if it was fair to the other young players on the team.
“Cliff told us that the team wanted it more than Jadon,” Archer said with emotion. “We’re really thankful to him.”
Archer said he also wanted to give credit and thanks to the Bolivar-Richburg team for agreeing to help Jadon have his special day. Also making the event special were the players from the Port Allegany Youth Football pony team and high school team who were at the game to cheer Jadon on alongside a number of people from the community.
Bienkowski, who not only coaches the high school team, but also volunteers for the youth football program, said he and the others made sure that all the older football players and cheerleaders were at the end zone where Jadon made his touchdown. He noted the event was posted on Facebook, which was visited by 15,000 people.
“It’s a testament that our program is all about families, from third grade all the way to high school,” Bienkowski remarked.
Bienkowski also noted that Jadon is a “die hard football fan and a die hard Steelers fan,” making the event even more special for everyone on the field. He said Jadon’s touchdown came at the beginning of the game.
“There were tears, there was joy, there was applause, there was craziness,” he shared. “It was really cool for people to see, because it was way more than a game. The whole place was kind of taken aback in a good way.”
Bienkowski also noted that the other team, which lost the game, was thrilled with Jadon’s touchdown.
“I talked to a lady from Bolivar a couple of days later and she said her grandson came home and (Jadon’s touchdown) was all he could talk about, even though they got beat,” Bienkowski added.
“It had sportsmanship written all over it.”