PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — “My wife says one day, ‘well, why can’t he play? Why not?’ And I didn’t have a good answer.”

It’s safe to say Jon Hunt, and all of Estacada, is glad he didn’t have that answer.

Jon’s son Ryan grew up wanting to play football, just like his big brother. Ryan has Down Syndrome, however, so, besides one year of football when he was much younger, his parents had decided to keep him out of the game — until this season.

The team eased Ryan in at first with him just attending practice to watch, but they couldn’t keep him out of pads for long.

“His will. His will and his energy,” said Estacada JV head coach Bryan Scott of what makes Ryan special. “He’s awesome. He brings something to the team that is unique to pretty much every player on the team.”

So the team decided to reward Hunt in Estacada’s first JV game of the season last week. Ryan scored an 80-yard touchdown for the Rangers. It wasn’t long before the TD went viral.

“It was pretty loud. Everyone was cheering. There was a lot of tears in the stands. Everyone was real excited for him,” said Jon, as he tried to not get emotional. “He just ran up to me, jumped into my arms, gave me a big ole hug. I don’t think the smile left his face all night. It was ear-to-ear all evening. He just thought he was king of the school all day.”

It’s a moment that will stick with Ryan forever, but the sport of football has given him so much more than just a triumphant memory.

“He has gone from a kid who couldn’t stand going to school, didn’t want to get up in the morning and go to school, and now he can’t wait because he doesn’t want to miss out on football,” said Jon. “It’s absolutely turned his entire attitude on school around. He’s doing better in class. He’s doing better socially. It’s just been night and day.”

Football has obviously taught Ryan a lot, and his dad hopes that both football and Ryan can teach others as well.

“The biggest lesson to be learned here is don’t limit people,” said Jon. “Give people a chance before you decide they can’t do something, and honestly, I learned that lesson through this.”