The last two weekends we've profiled two Special Olympics Colorado athletes, who will also be joining Denver7 as reporters to tell the inspirational stories of fellow athletes, coaches and volunteers. This week, they're introducing us to a flag football champion.
Vince Sanchez is a stud on the football field. He's not only a talented player, but also a leader.
Sanchez tells us his favorite position on JFK High School's Unified Football team is playing quarterback, “because Peyton Manning plays quarterback, and I want to play just like him,” Sanchez said.
Vince is also great on defense.
The fact that he's even on the field, his mom says, is a miracle.
"So, Vince was born with a really rare metabolic disorder called methylmalonic acidemia, and the doctors told us at first he probably wouldn't live to be five years old,” said Lori Sanchez. “When he turned five, everyone was like, ‘well, what do we do now?’”
Focusing on Unified Sports with Special Olympics Colorado has been a game changer for Sanchez. Just ask Coach Terry Bredehoft, who said Sanchez originally just wanted to cheer the team on from the sidelines.
“As time went on Vince said, ‘Okay, I really want to get out there and play’ and he started participating, and I think something clicked inside his head and he just started going, ‘I can do this’,” said Bredehoft.
That boost in confidence has not only helped him out in the field.
“Socially, it's made him a better student and he's got great friends,” said Sanchez’s mom.
“To see him now, compared to what I used to see him as… is just amazing. It's just – it’s a miracle to us to be able see him compete in this respect and to be able to be out there and have fun because it’s a life that we were never able to have before,” she said, with tears in her eyes.
“It's truly a miracle to have Special Olympics to allow him to do this... it's wonderful, it's a wonderful experience,” she added.