Taylan Orton has loved football as long as he could remember, so he was understandably excited to sign up for his first ever youth football league.
But the eight-year-old Ohio boy, who has cerebral palsy, was left in floods of tears in the middle of his first practice after he was yelled at by coaches and berated by another kid.
His mom Carrie Wilmoth, who told the league about his condition ahead of time, said he cried himself to sleep that night and kept asking her why he wasn’t good enough.
Wilmoth shared the heartbreaking experience in a Facebook post that went viral.
One of those moved by the post was a local football coach’s wife, Emily Buckman, who came up with an idea to lift Taylan's spirits.
On Wednesday, several Findlay High School football players surprised Taylan at lunch, invited him to join them on the sidelines for every home game this season, and presented him with a poster that said: "Taylan come hang out with us Friday nights".
Taylan said “Yeah” and screamed with excitement before they took a group photo.
“This means the world to him after everything that happened,” his mom said.
Taylan wanted to tell everyone about how he was the “was the coolest kid in the lunchroom,” she said, adding that he fell asleep with the poster in his bed.
Quarterback Tanner Rickle (12) told Fox News it was awesome for their team to get to surprise Taylan during lunch. Teammates Steven Gerdemann (61), Parker Fetterman (3), Mitchell Taylor (29), and Grant Morman (24) were able to make the trip to Taylan's school.
"Honestly it was just amazing! Just to see the look on his face," Rickle said. "Football’s an amazing sport, and we’re all taught by our coaches, teachers, and families to do the right thing and that was just our one small opportunity to do that.”
And on Friday night, Taylan led the Findlay Trojans out on the football field with his very own jersey (34) before the big game at Donnell Stadium, The Courier reported.
"Friday night was the highlight of his little life," Taylan's mom told Fox News. "I have never seen his face so lit up. He was on cloud nine. The football players and student section and all the staff will never truly understand how much this means to him and our family!"
Wilmoth said the Ohio-based company “Friends Against Bullies” has also helped them through the process.
“We are so thankful for all the support Taylan has got from everyone who has shared his post to raise awareness about bullying,” Wilmoth said. “Bullying is never O.K. and just because you can’t see a disability doesn’t mean it’s not there!”
Findlay High School Director of Athletics, Nate Weihrauch, told Fox News they wanted to do something encouraging for Taylan as soon as they heard his story.
“As a team and district, we encourage our players and students to be positive role models on and off the field,” Weihrauch said. “We believe character is important and this was an opportunity to simply help someone. We are blessed to have tremendous kids throughout our community that are willing to make a positive difference.”
Findlay Mayor Lydia Mihalik also celebrated Taylan’s surprise.
“This is amazing!” Mihalik told Fox News. “I’m so proud of our football players I can hardly stand it. We are a very blessed community.”