Maiden student, football duo share a special relationship

Cody Dalton
Sports Editor

When Ty Williams and Zay Huff met Keon Moses last year, they couldn’t have imagined just how much they would change each other’s lives in just over a year’s time.

The Maiden High School football players have bonded closely with the special needs student and given each other a new perspective on life.

Williams, a senior wide receiver for the Blue Devils, first met Moses last February.

“The first time we had any interaction with Keon is when Conover School had their Valentine’s dance,” Williams said. “I always just go all out, and when (the students) started dancing, I started dancing with them. That’s when I met Keon. We just hit it off from there. As soon as I started interacting with him, he automatically caught fire to it. There was that connection right off the bat. I guess that’s what brought us together.”

A senior wide receiver on the Maiden football team, Huff met Moses during a visit last spring to Conover City Park with the school’s “Varsity Blue” club.

“It was my first year of being in Varsity Blue. Ty had done it before, and Keon was his buddy,” Huff said. “I didn’t really know anybody, so I just followed Ty, and I met Keon. I found out (Moses) liked Michael Jackson, and I like Michael Jackson. He wanted to listen to ‘Thriller.’ That’s his favorite song.”

The two even shared their love of the artist with the help of Williams.

“Keon burned up all of Ty’s data on his phone because we listened to (Michael Jackson) on YouTube,” Huff said.

This year, all three students have physical education together and also spend time with each other during the school’s “Smart Lunch” period.

Williams said that Moses is a bright spot for him each and every day at Maiden High School.

“Every morning, even if I’m not feeling good or I’m still sleepy and tired, as soon as I walk in the door, Keon is on the other side of the gym, and he’ll sprint all the way across the gym while he’s yelling and giving us a high fives,” Williams said. “He’ll tell us ‘hello’ and ‘good morning.’ That just brightens my day right off the bat.”

Through spending time together, Huff said Moses has enlightened both he and Williams.

“Keon teaches you to look at the brighter side of everything,” Huff said. “He comes in with a smile every day. He doesn’t show anything, but happiness. I try to think about him any time I’m not having a good day.”

Moses’ fondness for Huff and Williams grew once he found out the duo were part of the school’s football program.

“I think he knew once we had our jerseys on, he put two and two together and realized we were athletes,” Williams said.

Since then, Williams and Huff have tried to make Moses feel like he’s a part of the football program.
Every Friday before each of Maiden’s football games — home or away, Williams gives Moses his No. 3 varsity jersey to wear during school.

“Ty lets Keon wear his jersey on Friday during class and throughout the school,” said Maiden head football coach Will Byrne. “He’ll wear a jersey around school all day and give it back. He loves it.”

Moses’ inclusion to the program was taken a step further on Sept. 23 before Maiden’s home football game against Bunker Hill High School.

Moses was invited to run out of the Blue Devils’ tunnel on to the field with the team.

Holding hands, Williams spoke to both Moses and his teammates before Maiden rushed on to the field surrounded by its signature smoke and trademark entrance song.

“I just told Keon that I want him to enjoy this moment because I think everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy big moments like that in life,” Williams said. “Not everybody can enjoy those big things. We think it’s big (to run out of the tunnel), but to somebody else that could be the world.”

Pam Lackey, a teacher assistant at Maiden High School, saw the interaction between Williams and Moses first hand.

“At the tunnel the very first time, Ty talked to his teammates and told them what a special person Keon was,” Lackey said. “(Williams) said ‘I have a special friend here.’ It was very emotional to me, and I think it was very emotional to (Williams) trying to tell his teammates.”

Byrne said the close relationship between Moses, Huff and Williams has had a “ripple effect” on his team.

“Early in the year, (Moses) loved those two (Williams and Huff), and now, it spread throughout the whole team,” Byrne said. “He’s gotten to know all of the other football players in class. He’s starting to build relationships with them. They understand how special he is to them, and now it’s just affecting everyone else in a positive way. It’s been amazing to see that. He’s made a big, positive impact on our football team.”

Williams is proud of the relationship he, Huff and his teammates have made with Moses — something they’ll all carry with them for the rest of their lives.

“The bonds between us every day in class and putting that out there on the football field when he’s running with us — all of that emotion tied together is just one big, great story,” Williams said. “You see how much he means to us, and we mean so much to him. It’s just great to know that.”