To the Editor,
I would like to take the time to express my gratitude to the Brooke High School football team, the booster organization, the board of education and, most of all, the Brooke football coaches. My son, Matteo Filippelli, has been given the opportunity to participate as a member of the varsity squad this year. He won't be wearing pads or making any touchdowns, but he will show tremendous heart and encouragement to every member of the team.
He is no stranger to football - he has been a water boy for the Wellsburg Colts for five years, a member of the Wellsburg Knights middle school team for one year and a waterboy for the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference West Virginia team in 2011 under Coach Mark Batton from Magnolia.
Matty was born with a rare chromosome disorder called chromosome 2 partial deletion. This creates significant speech and cognitive delays which prevent him from playing the sport of full contact football.
I have always tried to treat Matt with the normalcy of other children. The support we have received from the people of Brooke County and the Brooke County school system have allowed me to do this. When other organized sports teams in our area had little or nothing to do with my son because they felt that he was too much of a risk, the Wellsburg Colts stepped up and created a place for him to be a part of their team, allowing him to never quit. This was the beginning of a wonderful transformation in our county. Now the Bruins are carrying on this tradition.
Matt's friendship with the boys from the original Wellsburg team has spawned a feeling of acceptance, tolerance and compassion in our county. Now, even more children look beyond Matt's disabilities to find a common connection, sports. Students and parents who have never met Matty or have not had the opportunity to be on a team with him are learning what true acceptance means. They are learning to look beyond someone's abilities to their heart.
The coaches, the parents and, most of all, the players, have been amazing. Thank you again for making my son a Bruin in every sense of the word. No matter what this new year brings for the Brooke, in my opinion they have reached the the level of "the Best of the Best" when it comes to high school sports.