Bend boy makes his dream team
12-year-old with Down syndrome achieves goal
This fall, a Bend middle-schooler scored his first touchdown. But it was about much more than crossing a goal line -- this was about crossing off another accomplishment from a long list of "cant's."
Brandon Roach is a seventh-grader at High Desert Middle School, a boy with a big smile and a passion for football.
Brandon also has Down syndrome, and has never been able to play organized sports -- until this year.
Brandon's mother, Becky Roach, remembers how discouraging doctors were when they found out he had Down syndrome.
"Doctors are telling you, you know, 'He's not going to do this, he probably won't start school until he's 10, he probably won't walk until he's 4,'" Roach recalled. "And they just tell you all this negative stuff."
As Brandon grew older, he often imitated and copied his older brother. And when his brother was set to play eighth-grade football at High Desert, Brandon didn't want to be left out.
"He talked about playing football all summer -- he loves football," Roach said. "He just wants to do what everybody else is doing. And I am a big advocate for inclusion."
Head Coach Glen Hill said it wasn't easy finding a spot on the team for Brandon. They had to figure out what he could and couldn't do, and paired him with a faculty member who goes with him to every practice and game.
"For the most part, he's a part of everything we do," Hill said. "And it's turned out to be a really cool thing. I think it's going to be a life-long lesson, in understanding Brandon and just getting behind him. And you watch him out here, and he's having a ball."
Brandon plays mostly in the fifth quarter; the end of the game is reserved for players who don't get much time on the field.
First quarter or last, his mom loves watching him play.
"He is the type of kid who, once he gets it, he gets it," Roach said. "He is always upbeat. He's like a ray of sunshine."
And perhaps the one thing Brandon hears more than all the whistles and calls for plays are the cheers from his teammates.
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