For disabled but able kids, the Buffalo Bills Healthy Zone Fieldhouse played host to a unique and fun football clinic November 28th, and wide receiver David Nelson was on-hand to help the children learn about football. The Donny Thiry Foundation Football Clinic, run by the Town of Hamburg, NY Recreation Department, was held each Monday in November.
Bonnie and Don Thiry have helped continue the clinic for the past five years in memory of their son Donny, who passed away from a series of complications related to a disease called neurofibromatosis. The clinic was open to individuals with physical/mental disabilities, Aspergers Syndrome and high functioning autistic children. The participants are disabled but able to participate in the activities.
The clinic provides the participants with general knowledge of the game of football through a series of skills, development stations, and in a non-threatening environment. The kids learn all aspects of the game (throwing, kicking, running patterns, conditioning, defense and offense). The participants gain confidence and boost self esteem. Coaches and volunteers work closely with the individuals and encourage them to try new things.
David Nelson was impressed with the clinic.
"Being able to help the kids through the drills and get them excited about football was really amazing," said Nelson. "Many of these kids would not be able to go to football camps and this is something tailored to them, that they can be a part of."
Donny was passionate about athletics and sports but was never able to physically participate. He attended Frontier school district where they always included him in sports in some way. Whether it was a scorekeeper or a manger, Donny was always involved with Frontier athletics.
Mr. and Mrs. Thiry speak passionately about Donny and this clinic because they have experienced how a young child with a developmental disability can be positively impacted.
"He would be so proud to be part of it," said Bonnie Thiry. "The little money that it takes to make this clinic happen helps so many children, and Donny would never want the credit. He would just want to be involved and see the children benefitting from the program."
The Town of Hamburg Recreation Department organizes the clinic, volunteers from the Hamburg Youth Bureau help run the clinic, and the participants are kids with disabilities ages 3-22. The Thiry family and Blaze Sports sponsored the event this year.
The adaptive football clinics hosted by the Bills are special, for special kids.
"I think the clinics bring together the Buffalo Bills and the community, specifically the Town of Hamburg Recreation Department," said Nelson. "It allows these kids to come in and experience what we do on a day-to-day basis. They get to use our facilities and see all that we have here...all the equipment, building infrastructure and see what we do. They get to be a part of what we do and that is important to me. The Town of Hamburg really works with these kids and makes football something the kids really enjoy."
For more information, visit townofhamburgny.com.