Ralston Middle School student Michael Madej loves sports and giving high-fives.
Madej, who has epilepsy, has been a team manager for several sports at the school, including the boys’ basketball team.
So to show the team's appreciation for what Madej has done for the players, Coach Malachi Behrens planned a way for him to play during the team's last game.
“We put him in the fourth quarter and he played…and scored five points and it was better than we could ever imagine," Behrens says.
The coach coordinated with Bellevue Public Schools to see if Mission Middle School would mind having Madej play in the game. When Behrens received the green light, he ordered a jersey for the student which Madej proudly wore all day leading up to the game.
Students made posters and cheered for Madej as he ran up and down the court, according to Eric and Jodi Madej, the student’s parents.
“They were chanting in the middle of the game, 'We want Michael, we want Michael,’” Jodi Madej says. “It was really cool to see how much the students love him."
Madej even gave high-fives to the opposing team as seen in video recordings.
The tender moment went viral and has left his parents and teammates in awe despite knowing the plan all along.
“He’s the best manager we could ever ask for,” says Ethan Voss, a teammate. “It was a really cool experience and he really deserved it and everyone [was] emotional about it.”
Based on reaction from attendees and online viewers, the event illustrated what youth sports is all about.
“The wins are great,” Eric Madej says. “[But] it's really about relationships. It's about the bond you made with your teammates. It's about the bond you made with the other people.”