by Joe Catenacci from Port City Daily:
In an effort to bring awareness to Down syndrome and improve tolerance and understanding of children with special needs, the UNCW men’s soccer team will play in a charity match against the N.C. State Wolfpack on Saturday, April 12, at the UNCW Soccer Stadium.
Nearly two years ago, Harry, the son of UNCW Coach Aidan Heaney, was born with Down syndrome. Heaney hasn’t missed a beat on the pitch and couldn’t think of a better to combine two of his loves, his family and the game of soccer.
“Harry has been such a blessing for our family. We knew early in the pregnancy he would be born with Down syndrome and, naturally, we were in shock. My wife and I did our research on what this would mean for Harry and our family. We continue to learn on how to be a parent with special needs,” Heaney said.
Heaney got the idea for the game from a colleague at Xavier, who also has a child with Down syndrome. After speaking with coaches at N.C. State at the end of this past season, they both agreed that this would be a great way to come together in support of a cause so close to home, Heaney said.
“It’s never something you think about when you start a family. Our son is a unique child, but I can tell you he wakes up with a smile on his face every morning and I’m sure he will teach me some things as he grows. Our hope is that he is able to enjoy opportunities that every child has. He has made our family unity closer,” Heaney said.
Tickets to Saturday’s friendly are $5 for adults, kids 15 and under and students are free. There will be plenty of activities for the kids, free food, drinks and face paiting. There will also be a silent auction at the game for UNCW game jerseys in addition to N.C. State apparel.
“I hope the community comes out and supports the event, has a wonderful night. Our goal is to bring a smile to some faces and raise some money for TOPS Soccer,” Heaney said.