Two high school wrestlers from Pennsylvania are warming hearts around the country after proving that anybody can be part of a team.
Dillon Keane is a member of the Bradford Owls wrestling team at Bradford Area High School in Pennsylvania.
Keane recently wrestled fellow team member Jacob Meister, 17, and graciously allowed him to win the match.
Meister, a junior at Bradford High, is also a devoted member of the Bradford Owls wrestling team.
He has Cerebral palsy, is non-verbal and has autism, but still shows up at team practices and meets, sporting his Bradford Wrestling T-shirt.
The Owls have embraced Meister as one of their own, wrestling against him outside of competition, just for fun.
When Keane saw how much Meister enjoyed wrestling with the team members, he decided it would be fun for Meister to compete in front of a crowd after the Owl’s first match of 2019.
“It was brought up a while ago in a conversation between me and my mom, and I was immediately very excited to make it happen,” Keane told The Bradford Era.
“He seemed excited and definitely showed interest when he got to wrestle around with some of the guys on the team a few weeks back.”
Jake, a member of my old high school’s wrestling team suffers a physical disability. Tonight my boyfriend volunteered to have a wrestling match with him, making his dream come true. Amazing to see the joy it brought to his family and the community. My heart is so full ?? pic.twitter.com/BaeCvqclG3
— Brooke McGriff (@brookemcgriff16) January 4, 2019
On Jan. 3, when the Owl’s official match had concluded, the time came for Meister to have his big moment.
The Keane-Meister wrestling match was announced, and the two wrestlers walked to the mat.
Keane struggled under Meister’s weight, eventually wrapping Meister’s body around his own so that Meister could pin him for the win.
The crowd erupted in applause, wildly cheering Meister’s name.
The video was captured by Keane’s girlfriend, Brooke McGriff, who posted the match on Twitter.
Meister’s mother, Mary Jo Corignani, was in the crowd that night and she said that watching her son’s dream come true moved her to tears.
“Watching Jake on the mat was a dream for me as well,” Corignani said.
“At the age of three, we were told that he’d never walk. To see him on the mat and to hear his name being cheered brought me to tears — happy tears.”
Corignani is overwhelmed with gratitude at the love and friendship the wrestlers at Bradford High have shown her son.
“That match was so much more than just watching a child with disabilities,” she said. “It was about a team, a team filled with heart.”
“I will be forever grateful for the way they’ve embraced my son,” she said. “Disability has never defined Jake. And, if anything, he’s proved different doesn’t mean less.”
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