DENVER -- Homecoming is a special night and members of the Manual High School football team made sure it would be a night to remember for a very special 3-year-old girl.
The Thunderbolts were in Nebraska for a football camp over the summer. On their way back to Denver, they got the order to do some community service. So they went to a home to do some yard work and didn’t realize their lives would be changed forever.
Avelynn turned 3 years old earlier this week and her nurses call her the strongest little girl in the world. Avi was born with several complications, has already undergone multiple open heart surgeries and doctors didn’t expect her to live past 6 weeks.
The Manual football team’s community service was to turn Avi’s backyard full of dirt into grass that she immediately fell in love with.
“When we saw that little girl walk out onto her new lawn it touched my heart so much. I wanted to cry,” senior running back Losseny Kone said.
“It’s something that immediately touched us and I think that there’s so few times in your life when you can feel an immediate impact normally it takes days, weeks, years of reflections,” defensive coordinator Benjamin Butler said.
Avi made such a big impact on Manual’s team that they wanted to do more.
“There is something special about high school and a high school football game on a Friday night and meeting little Avi we wanted to make sure we could share that experience with her,” Butler said.
So the Thunderbolts invited her to their homecoming game and crowned Avi homecoming queen.
"Her coming out here today is what really is going to drive us and our passion is what we need as a team and a school to see this girl walk out and be crowned queen. Something she probably won’t experience ever so it really means a lot to us,” Losseny Kone said.
The newly crowned 2015 Manual High School homecoming queen had just as big of an impact on the team as they did on her.
“Our coach always has a saying: Choose life. That little girl chose life. She chose to move on," Kone said.