WELLSBURG - For their efforts to help a friend with special needs, several Brooke High School football players have won $1,000 for their school.
The seven players and Matteo "Matty" Filippelli, a manager for the team, have been recognized for performing one of the Top 10 Responsible Sports Moments of 2013 through a national contest sponsored by the Liberty Mutual Insurance Responsible Sports program in partnership with the Positive Coaching Alliance.
The alliance is a nonprofit group formed to promote sportsmanship and character-building in youth sports,
The seven players - Thomas Cole, Justin Elliott, Michael Kurcina, Matthew Lazear, Justin Loughrie, Aaron Walker and Matt Hartman, who since has transferred to Weir High School - volunteered to learn sign language so they could better communicate with Filippelli.
Filippelli can hear but was born with chromosome 2 partial deletion, a rare genetic condition that causes growth and developmental delays. The condition makes it difficult for him to communicate verbally, so he often uses sign language, said his parents, Carla and Brian Jacobs of Follansbee.
With the encouragement of their coach, Sean Blumette, the players learned sign language from Dana Cuomo, a speech therapist at the high school. They said they were happy to learn it because Filippelli has been a positive influence on the team, often offering encouragement and helping to raise their spirits.
Earlier this year the eight won third place in the Excellent Sportsmanship Contest held through Facebook by MedExpress Urgent Care.
Filippelli also won the Yes I Can Award given by the the West Virginia Council for Exceptional Children to youth who have overcome disabilities to excel in various areas, including sports. He has been involved with football, as a player or manager, since he was 8.
Throughout the year, Liberty Mutual and the PCA identified moments across the country that exemplified sportsmanship within local communities, highlighting each moment on ResponsibleSports.com.
The winners were selected by a panel of judges that included PCA Founder Jim Thompson, U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist Picabo Street and executives from Responsible Sports partner organizations.
Anthony Storm, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Liberty Mutual, said the company "prides itself on responsibility in action, and these 'Top 10 Moments' remind us that youth sports is where many children learn positive life lessons. We applaud these young athletes and organizations for their demonstrations of sportsmanship and integrity, and are proud to honor their responsible acts."
For information on the "Top 10 Responsible Sports Moments" of 2013 and Liberty Mutual Insurance Responsible Sports, visit ResponsibleSports.com or Facebook.com/ResponsibleSports.