Throughout this past summer, weekends for Adapted Football League athletes were spent in the sun throwing around a football with a teammate and even meeting a Cleveland Browns player or two.
For the seventh year, Browns Give Back and the Cleveland Browns Foundation have partnered with the Achievement Centers for Children to provide adapted football to anyone 7 years or older with a disability. This season, the league had the highest participation to date with more than 120 athletes and over 150 volunteers.
The Adapted Football League was established in 2011. The league supports children with both cognitive and/or developmental delays and those with physical limitations. By separating into two divisions, the league is able to support players of all abilities. Division I is played on a grass field without any assistive equipment, and Division II is a power/manual wheelchair league played on a hardtop surface. Athletes and volunteers got together every Saturday for 8 weeks to enhance their skill development, socialization and physical activity. Those building blocks helped prepare participants for achievement and growth in the future.
This year, the season kicked off with an open skills session at the Achievement Centers Camp Cheerful located in Strongsville, Ohio. Cleveland Browns Alumni and players, DL Danny Shelton, DL Tyrone Holmes, OL Shon Coleman and OL Cameron Erving attended to lend their expertise and provide tips to the developing football players. Players rotated through stations as the athletes brushed up and refined their skills on catching, throwing, and kicking.
To celebrate the end of a successful season, the league’s last game of the regular season was played on a Friday night at Lou Groza Field in Berea. It was a special moment for parents and players alike as each athlete was announced and ran out onto the football field under the lights. The Lakewood Sparkle Effect Team and Lou Groza Cheerleaders attended and gave special half-time performances.
The season came to a close with an All-Star Game at the Cleveland Browns Berea Training Facility in July. Not only did the athletes play their final game on the same field the Cleveland Browns practice on, they were welcomed into the field house through a tunnel made up of Lou Groza Cheerleaders, Cleveland Browns Alumni—OT Doug Dieken, DB Ernie Kellerman, QB Dave Mays and NT Dave Puzzuoli—and family and friends cheering them on. To top it off, OL Joel Bitonio and WR Rannell Hall joined in on the festivities and even made time to snap a couple of pictures and sign a few autographs. The day wrapped up with an awards ceremony where the League’s numerous volunteers and athletes were recognized.
Adapted Football League (AFL) athletes, families and volunteers attended a special Cleveland Browns Training Camp practice. After practice, AFL athletes were able to throw and catch touchdown passes on the field afterwards, and the Lakewood Sparkle Effect Cheerleaders joined in to cheer them on.
The Achievement Centers for Children’s mission is to empower children and adults with disabilities and their families to achieve their greatest potential. Browns Give Back and the Cleveland Browns Foundation are proud to support such an outstanding program and all that it does to promote youth development throughout Northeast Ohio. To learn more, click here.
The Browns Give Back to Northeast Ohio with a commitment to education and youth football while engaging the community through the team’s signature First and Ten volunteer movement. For more information, visit www.clevelandbrowns.com/brownsgiveback.
A core focus area of Browns Give Back is education, and the Cleveland Browns Foundation supports the mission through financial grants and other resources to local, education non-profits to ensure youth in Northeast Ohio receive the education and development they need as a foundation for independence and success. The Cleveland Browns Foundation has identified three areas of impact – school attendance, early learning and college and career readiness – with the goal of identifying opportunities, removing barriers and providing support for students to empower them for long-term success.