MITCHELL, IN (WAVE) - Parents are packing the stands of high school football games this season. Many of them because their son will be taking the field. But there's one Indiana parent who has an even more special reason. For her son, each play is a reminder of how far he's come.
April Stemann said she always knew her son Zachary's dream would come true. Even though others weren't as confidence.
"When he was first diagnosed with autism he was 18 months old," Stemann said. "And I was told he wouldn't be able to do things other ‘normal' kids do. And he's here proving people wrong. And I'm really proud of him."
Zachary's now a freshman at Mitchell High School and getting time on the field as a running back and linebacker for the Junior Varsity Team.
His Coach, John Edge, said Zachary's dedicated.
"Really, really wants to play football. And it shows," Coach Edge said.
As with most kids, Zachary put in countless hours to learn the plays. He studied the playbook at night. But for Zachary, who's autistic, it didn't come as easily.
"He's 15, he didn't tie his shoes until he was 12," said his Mom.
Even though Zachary tried to focus on his dreams and the positive, kids can be cruel.
"I was mostly picked on my 6th grade year," Zachary said. "All past me. All know me now."
That's when he joined a football team and teammates became his friends and his supporters.
"He gets made fun of sometimes outside of school. But we stick up for him," said teammate Connor Key.
Another teammate, AJ Elms, said Zachary's the hardest working player on the team.
Zachary's mother said her son is a reminder of what faith can accomplish.
"I've always told him you can be anything you want to be and he wants to be a football player," Stemann said.
Zachary added, "I just say keep working at your dream until you succeed."
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