Keith Orr was a nobody. Not popular. Not cool. Keith has special needs. He’s classed as learning disabled and struggles to understand boundaries. Keith likes to hug people and doesn’t get that such gestures, although well-intentioned, are not always appropriate. Life at Olivet Middle School, Michigan hasn’t always been plain sailing for Keith. But Keith is a nobody no longer.
You see, someone has Keith’s back these days and Keith is popular and Keith is cool. This is all thanks to the Olivet Football Team, whose example is one for us all to start following.
It takes a lot to make a football player cry, but talking about Keith (and, perhaps more significantly, about his own failure to recognize his classmate’s needs and go the extra mile to support him) is something that reduces Justice Miller to tears.
‘He’s never been cool or popular,’ Justice says. He himself describes Keith as a nobody, before he starts to sob. ‘I never thought about that,’ he says, his candor commendable. ‘Mostly, I just thought about myself and my friends.’
Justice is brave to admit this. His words, though, have been backed up on the football field where, in their actions during a recent game, the entire team demonstrated their feelings for Keith. It took much planning and great secrecy, this a plot hatched without their coach’s consent. It’s something that the Olivet Eagles call the ‘Keith Play’. It has been described in some quarters as football’s greatest-ever move. We’d like you to watch this short film . . .
Remarkable stuff, you’ll agree. Football players aren’t known for being caring, considerate and compassionate individuals, although it’s quite clear that this reputation is unfair. Beneath their helmets they’re human beings, after all. People, just like us. People, just like Keith . . .
People with the same feelings and frailties that tie us all together. People who might have failed to look after someone in need of support, but people determined to make amends and do something about it. This isn’t just about football, this is about life. We are the Olivet Eagles. Who needs OUR help?
It’s time that we all started to think about what it means to make someone’s day, to make someone happy. To prove that we’re all part of a team and that those in our midst – no matter their problems or their limitations – mean a great deal to us. It’s time to start caring for others and not just for ourselves. There’s a Keith Orr in all our lives. It’s Keith’s time and it’s up to us to step up and make the play.