Mississippi State and Ole Miss faced off on the gridiron Wednesday night for a different kind of Egg Bowl, bringing college students, Special Olympic athletes and families together for a cause bigger than football.
The Unified Egg Bowl took place yesterday at the intramural fields on the Mississippi State campus. The event was hosted by Special Olympics Mississippi and attended by fans, law enforcement officers and even the Mississippi State pep band. Each flag football team was comprised of Unified teams with Special Olympics athletes and students from each university.
The goal of the Unified Egg Bowl was to bring about acceptance and friendship through playing together. The Bulldogs began with a three-point lead because their school raised the most money for Special Olympics Mississippi. Each team’s defense had a great first half and Mississippi State was up 3-2 at halftime. During the halftime show, Mississippi State’s Maroon Band performed while cheerleaders and baton twirlers accompanied them. Ole Miss scored the first touchdown of the game.
In the second half, Rebel Jesse Wims had an amazing run that even caused Bulldog fans to cheer.
Jesse is a native of Horn Lake, and he has been involved with Special Olympics for 6 years. Although he usually runs track, the Unified Egg Bowl has given him the opportunity to play a new sport and make new friends. His mother Mary said that his favorite part of this experience was visiting the Ole Miss Indoor Practice Facility last week and meeting Coach Hugh Freeze.
“It was like Christmas for him. They gave them jerseys and spoke to the players,” Mary Wims said. “Jesse usually goes to bed early, but I couldn’t get him to go to bed until midnight because he was so excited.”
Mary says the event allowed her son and his friends the opportunity to feel like part of the team and to be accepted by people outside of their normal friend group.
After a very close game, the Ole Miss unified team won 23-17. After the game, each player from the Ole Miss team was given a gold medal and the Bulldogs were given silver medals. Law enforcement officers presented the medals because they have a very close relationship with Special Olympics Mississippi.
Finally, the Ole Miss team received a trophy and celebrated the victory. Matthew Oellerich, an Ole Miss student, played quarterback for the Rebels.
“At the very beginning we were told to treat the athletes like anyone else,” Oellerich said. “I didn’t know how involved it would be, but the athletes from Special Olympics gave more to me than I ever gave them. It was an amazing experience.”
Rachel Gholson is a HottyToddy.com staff reporter and can be reached at email@example.com.
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