DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Last year, the pandemic canceled the Highland Park Buddy Bowl, but this year nothing could stop the fun.

Students with special needs once again partnered up with Highland Park High School football players to play in arguably the most joy-filled football game around.

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The concept was organized Brayden and Brielle Schager and some classmates five years ago, when they began looking for a way for their classmates with special needs to participate in a football game.

Each year, the event has grown and the bond between the athletes and their buddies has strengthened.

“Ally she is wearing my number, number 13, and it means a ton to see her throw the ball out there,” Schager described of his buddy, Ally Wells. “Me and her have been together for the last five years in the Buddy Bowl, and to see her play football makes me happy and I hope she has a good time out here.

“He’s my best friend!” Wells explains.

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It is a day filled with football and fun as the players like Wells run down the field to make touchdowns, while being cheered on by hundreds of fans.

“I just went for it! I didn’t look behind me! I just gunned it!” Wells said of her touchdown.

Sam Morse and Carson Green helped coach the athletes in the game and says the event has seen tremendous growth over the years.

“To see it like this now is absolutely insane,” Morse said. “I love everyone coming together, because at the school we have a great special needs program and just going the extra mile for these kids is amazing.”

“It is just such a moment for them and it just brings a tear to my eye watching them and seeing them have so much fun,” Green said.

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A game where everyone leaves a winner and leaves with a smile.

Madison Sawyer