If you want to bully 6-year-old Danny Keefe, you're going to have to first take on the Badgers -- the Williams Intermediate School football team that has vowed to protect the special-needs kindergartner in Bridgewater, Mass.
Danny suffers from a speech impediment and other health issues stemming from a brain hemorrhage after birth, according to the Enterprise News. But he has defied medical predictions and is living a full and rich life, down to serving as the "water coach" for the Bridgewater Badgers Div. 5 Peewees football team.
It's easy to pick Danny out on the sidelines: He's the one who's wearing a jacket and tie, and a fedora. It's an outfit his parents say he insists on each day, and it helps him stride up and down the sidelines with an air of authority as he tends to the football players.
So when those very same players heard that Danny was being bullied at Mitchell Elementary School and ridiculed for his speech, well, the Badgers weren't going to let that stand.
They declared Nov. 20 "Danny Appreciation Day," during which players and others wore jackets, ties and hats to the school. It was a "uniform" that sent a clear and powerful message to Danny's harassers: Mess with him and you mess with us.
At one point, the nattily attired students crowded around the little boy and chanted, "Danny! Danny!"
According to the Enterprise, Danny beamed and said, "This is the best day ever."
Danny's mother, Jennifer, told local news station WCVB that later that night she found the boy sobbing just as he was about to go to sleep.
He said he felt happy and loved.
Danny's older brother, Tim, plays for the Badgers, and the boys' father is the team's assistant coach. Mark Keefe said he is always impressed with the way the football players treat Danny, including letting him run out on the field with the team and including him in activities.
Players, though, say they are the lucky ones to have Danny on their side. Brett Jackson, 10, told the newspaper, "Whenever I see the big, huge smile on his face, it makes my day. He keeps his head high."
If you liked this story, you simply must read the full account at the Enterprise, which goes into much more depth and takes the added step of paying tribute to all the youngsters who participated in "Danny Appreciation Day" by listing their names.
Kudos to the Badgers, and to the Enterprise for bringing us a story that makes us realize that all those other headlines are the exception, not the rule.