A high school wrestler in Pennsylvania is being praised after video emerged of him “losing” a match at a meet last Thursday — to a teen who happened to have autism and cerebral palsy.
And as Jacob Meister, 17, pinned Dillon Keane’s shoulders to the mat, the crowd erupted in thunderous applause in recognition of the nearly impossible dream that had just been realized.
“Watching Jake on the mat was a dream for me as well,” Meister’s mother, Mary Jo Corignani, told the Bradford Era.
“At the age of three, we were told that he’d never walk. To see him on the mat and to hear his name being cheered brought me to tears — happy tears.”
Both Meister and Keane are members of the Bradford Owls wrestling team at Bradford Area High School in Bradford, Penn.
According to Keane’s girlfriend Brooke McGriff, who recorded video of the match and its emotional aftermath, the idea to have Meister wrestle came from the close bond he had developed with the team.
McGriff says Keane volunteered to be the one to wrestle Meister, and their match came as the final match of Thursday’s wrestling meet at Bradford Area High School.
“That match was so much more than just watching a child with disabilities,” Corignani told the Bradford Era. “It was about a team, a team filled with heart. I will be forever grateful for the way they’ve embraced my son.”
Keane, a three-time regional qualifier in varsity wrestling, drew praise from many on social media for his selfless actions.
“Amazing to see the joy it brought to his family and the community,” McGriff wrote in her original tweet, which has since been retweeted over 20,000 times.