Olentangy Orange team manager with Down Syndrome receives team jersey

Local News

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A special moment happened at Olentangy Middle School recently when the 7th grade baseball team made Zachary Shoemaker an official member of the Pioneers.

Zach has Down Syndrome and helps out as the team manager for Orange, but the players realized they all had something Zach was missing — his own jersey.

“He was thrilled and Zach didn’t want to take the jersey off,” Zach’s dad Steve Shoemaker said. “He wanted to wear it to bed, he wanted to wear it the next day to school and just wanted to always have it on.”

The Pioneers 7th grade baseball team was left with an extra jersey when they accidentally gave the same number to two players.

But the accident turned out to have a purpose just like Zach has a purpose on the team.

“He picks us up, he encourages us and just brings us up when we’re down,” teammate Jamison Lehrke said.

“He gets everybody excited, he runs around, he brings you up. You have a bad at-bat he’s right there for you,” teammate Landon Blankenship said.

“It’s truly amazing that a group of 13-year-old boys can come together and truly accept anyone regardless of their differences,” 7th grade baseball coach Thomas Cromleigh said.

Cromleigh met Zach at the beginning of the school year and the two quickly formed a bond.

“Zach has brought so much joy and just the charisma that he has to our team that it’s truly showing in every single kid on this team,” he said.

And it showed when his teammates gave him the jersey, a gesture of love for someone who’s always showing love to them.

“We’re more than a team now,” Cromleigh said. “We’re actually a family and it’s all because of Zach.”

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