MESQUITE, Texas - A Mesquite middle schooler with a disability got the surprise of his life when his school's football team made him an honorary member and let him score the game winning touchdown.
Jose Cardoso is an honorary member of the AC New Middle School Knights and one of the team's biggest supporters. Coached surprised him Monday night by putting him in the game. It was a play made possible by his teammates and even their middle school opponents.
At every practice and every game, the Knights can count on Jose Cardoso to cheer them on from the sidelines.
Angel, Jose's twin brother says his brother, who uses a wheelchair, is full of good advice and encouragement for his fellow middle schoolers.
"He helps all the teammates feel better themselves and also push them farther so that way they can surpass their limitations," Angel said. "He never gets bugged if we lose of win. He always keeps on a smile."
Teammates say Jose's enthusiasm and overall character makes him one of the most valuable players on the team even though he had never officially taken the field himself until Monday night.
Jose's coaches and teammates planned for him to score the winning touchdown of the last home game of the season with the blessing of the opposing team. Kimbrough Middle School let Angel wheel Jose 60 yards for the touchdown. They also joined in to cheer on a beaming Jose.
"The crowd was yelling his name. I can tell you, for coaches, we're not supposed to be the emotional guys, but we were tearing up," said Coach Sergio Gonzalez. "We were excited and just proud of our whole team and proud of our community."
"Thanks to Kimbrough and all the fans and to Jose and his brother for bringing pure joy to everybody they touch," said Assistant Coach Kevin Oliver.
And for the man himself, Jose said it was all a big surprise that keeps giving. On Wednesday, he got the game ball as a thank you from his coaches for showing, by example, what it means to truly love the game and the team.
"I didn't know that the coaches were going to put me in," the seventh-grader said.
"These guys right here, we come to work every day to see these smile," Gonzalez said.
Coaches said since it was the last home game of the regular season, it was the best time to try to do something special for Jose.
With the help of Jose, the Knights won the game 39-0.