FRANKLIN (CBS) – Realizing the possibilities, marshaling the resources and making sure a kid who loves football gets the chance to play. That’s this week’s “Power of Partnership,” showing what can be accomplished when we work together. Even though it’s not easy or inexpensive, a local Pop Warner group is finding a way.
He wears number 47 on his jersey, but 8-year-old Kyle Florio doesn’t hear the quarterback’s calls, or the shouts of his coach. But it doesn’t matter. For Kyle, there’s nothing like football. “Because it’s better than all the other sports. “It’s the best,” he says, using American Sign Language (ASL) to speak because Kyle has been deaf since birth.
“He sleeps football, he dreams football, talks about football. He has everything, posters all over his wall. All he thinks about is football. He loves it,” says Steve Florio, Kyle’s father who is also deaf.
And because the Franklin Pop Warner program is pulling together, Kyle is doing what he loves.
“You know, it’s real football,” he says. “We want every single child that wants to play football to be able to play football. We don’t want to turn anyone away,” says John McKenzie, the Chargers’ treasurer.
Last year the Franklin Chargers committed $7000 to hire American Sign Language interpreters for all practices and games. This season they need to raise $8000. “It’s really tough,” says McKenzie. Extremely tough for a small, local non-profit. But individuals and businesses are stepping up, and so did the Patriots Alumni Club, donating $2000. “Once you place an interpreter into the scenario, then he has full communication access, full participation, and yes, that means a lot to me,” says Steve Florio.
It works simply and well. During practices and games an interpreter stays close to the coach, and Kyle pays close attention. “The coach will call the play and the interpreter will tell me, and then I’ll look down on my play sheet,” says Kyle. Kyle wears the play sheet on his arm. Each play is numbered so as the coach calls out the number to the team, the interpreter tells Kyle. No problem. “I love coaching him. He was probably one of the first players, running backs, to learn all the plays,” says Chargers’ coach Roger Jette.
“He feels he’s just like any other student, any other player here. He’s comfortable communicating with the coach and learning the techniques. He has a very, very strong passion,” says Kyle’s Dad. And a very simple desire that a lot of people are working to fulfill. “Well, it makes me happy,” Kyle says.
Kyle has two younger brothers who also want to play football and are deaf as well. The Chargers still need to raise more than $3000 to provide interpreters this season. If you’d like more information or would like to help:
To make a donation:
PO Box 66
Franklin, MA 02038
Or go online: www.franklinchargers.net
For information about American Sign Language: www.nidcd.nih.gov