Andy Welter lives in Farmington, Minnesota with his mum Amy and dad Matt. He is diagnosed with myotubular myopathy.
A senior at Farmington High School, Andy loves football and in September, was given the opportunity by the captains of Farmington’s football team the Tigers (Hunter Hedlund, Luke Weierke, Jack Baumbach and Jake Nelson), to serve as the flag bearer, leading the team onto the field ahead of the team’s home opener. Andy was also an honorary captain for the game, which the Tigers won 49-14.
Traditionally a member of the student body is chosen to serve as the flag bearer but the four team members felt those students were only chosen from the ‘popular’ crowd. Hunter, Luke, Jack and Jake wanted to change that and they had a particular person in mind for the honor.
On 6 September, Andy, wearing a Tigers jersey and carrying the flag with the help of his mum, led his high school football team onto the field.
Amy says ‘Andy was just so proud of carrying that flag and enjoyed every moment of the experience, from leading the team out, to serving as an honorary captain on the field for the coin toss. He stood alongside the players during the national anthem (one of his favorite things) and watched the game from up close.’
Many of Andy’s family were in attendance on the night to cheer him on during his moment and when the captains met at midfield for the pre-game coin toss, Jack Baumbach introduced Andy as ‘my boy, Andy.’ Amy says ‘My heart melted. I’ve never had somebody really respond to Andy like that, and it just meant a lot. There’s no words for how amazing it was for us. It was like a Make-a-Wish. Andy was finally part of a team.’
Amy explains ‘In elementary school, Andy was part of a group that helped him to get to know other kids and vice versa but things changed as he got older and one day during sophomore year, when Andy wheeled up to a table, all the children got up and left. After that, he really didn’t want to always come to school. Then these four amazing guys came along and changed senior year for him’.
‘After suggesting Andy be a flag bearer, the four captains visited him at home to get to know him better. Andy is now back to enjoying school. He loves saying hi to ‘the guys’ and giving fist bumps as he rolls by. And he now has friends to sit with at lunch – one of the highlights of his day. Andy is now established as an integral part of the student body. After serving as a flag bearer, classmates know who he is and acknowledge him in the hallways. At a recent pep fest, he sat with the football team.’
Amy says ‘The captains make a point to credit their entire team with welcoming in Andy but I know that only happened because four senior classmates got the ball rolling.’