Michael Arechavala has Down syndrome, but has never let it deter him from being an athlete. The New Jersey high schooler has been a four-year participant in football, baseball and wrestling at Audubon High School.
He attends every practice. He goes through every workout his teammates do. And on Thursday, Arechavala had a senior day to remember when he scored a 65-yard kick return touchdown.
On an untimed play at the start of the Thanksgiving Day game against Haddon Township, Audubon received a kickoff and pitched it back to Arechavala. He did the rest cutting to his right and running 65 yards up the right sideline for a touchdown.
Audubon Coach Dominic Koehl told the Courier-Post that the coaching staff had come up with the idea as a way to honor Arechavala for his dedication and hard work.
"He's a great, hard-working kid who comes every day," Koehl said. "That's how we always thought of him — just another football player."
"We just want to make sure Michael felt a part of the team in every facet and he always has been. He's just a great kid," Koehl added.
After scoring, a smiling Arechavala said the touchdown run felt good and flashed two thumbs up.
"Just so happy for him because he tries as hard as anyone else," his mother, Donna, said. "It's a dream come true for him, especially on senior day."
Audubon (4-6) won the season finale, 45-6.