The following was submitted by the Westford Jr. Ghosts. To submit your own content, e-mail [email protected]
Westford’s Pop Warner football and cheer program, the Westford Junior Ghosts, kicks off another exciting season of football and fun against Dracut on September 13.
Both the football and cheer programs for all age groups will be out in force for the season’s first home game, played at Westford Academy beginning at 8 a.m. Games are scheduled through the day, but the first game will feature a special team-led tribute to a player’s disabled brother.
Many of last season’s Pee Wee division cheerleaders are hoping to repeat last year’s success, when the squad was undefeated in a series of local and regional competitions. The team earned the title of National Champions at the Pop Warner National Cheerleading Championships, held last December in Kissimmee, Fla. The team of 12 girls, several of whom were new to the sport, competed and won against eight other regional champions from all over the country.
This year’s Mitey Mites division football team of mostly 7 and 8 year olds is looking forward to another strong season and a possible return to the Pop Warner “Baby Bowl” tournament. The Baby Bowl, held annually since 2009, attracts teams from Pop Warner programs throughout eastern Massachusetts for a tournament of four 15- or 20-minute mini-games on a shortened field.
Last year’s team surprised opponents with an undefeated 4-0 record in the tournament, taking home bragging rights and a trophy that is currently on display at the 99 Restaurant on Littleton Road.
During the first game, one of the Mitey Mites, Noah Davidopoulos, will be joined on the field for a brief celebration with teammates and his younger brother, Matthew, who will sprint for the end zone in his all-terrain wheelchair.
Just months after he was born, Matthew was diagnosed with Type 1 spinal muscular atrophy, or SMA, a congenital disease that affects the motor nerve cells in the spinal cord, taking away the ability to walk, eat, or breathe. According Cure SMA, the national organization funding research and treatment of the disease, SMA is the number one genetic cause of death for infants.
Matthew’s doctors originally told his parents that he probably wouldn’t live past his second birthday, but Matthew has turned 6, loves to hang out with his brother and friends, recently started first grade.
In a letter introducing Matthew to his class, his mother, Courtney Davidopoulos, explained that Matthew’s disease “does not hinder his cognitive ability, his speech or his playful spirit. Matthew’s disabilities obviously create many challenges and make him vulnerable to illness. But he wants nothing more than to just be one of the kids!”
The team has established a GoFundMe page ( http://www.gofundme.com/6m2q8yg4 ) to help raise money for a new ramp at Matthew’s house as well as some updates for the house to accommodate Matthew and his conditions. Any additional funds will go to assist in research to help find a cure for SMA.
Westford Pop Warner Jr. Ghosts Schedule
9/13 Dracut @ Westford
9/20 Westford @ Reading
9/27 Westford @ Lawrence
10/4 Chelmsford @ Westford
10/11 Westford @ Methuen
10/18 Westford @ Acton Boxboro
10/25 Saugus @ Westford
11/1 Wakefield @ Westford