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Football team rallies to help boy finish race

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – High school football players are known for being rough and tough on the green.

But members of the Gateway High School football team from Kissimmee let their soft side show.

"They were trying to push me to my goal of being the fastest runner ever," said 8-year old Damari Sharpe.

Sharpe was among dozens of children's on Gateway's track Wednesday afternoon.

Around a dozen elementary schools were taking part in a cross country meet.

This was the second race for Damari. He was excited to compete in the race and you could say his excitement got the best of him.

"I couldn't make it to where my friends were and I really wanted to run really fast. So, I couldn't keep up so I got a little depressed," said Damari.

His mother, Debbie-Ann, watched, knowing she couldn't really help.

"By the time he's gotten near the end, he's the last kid and he's defeated. He's so depressed by this and he's ready to give up," said Debbie-Ann.

But a group of football players wouldn't let him.

"He was struggling in the race and so all of us agreed to run with him all the way to the finish line," said Xavien Richmond, a senior at Gateway.

The team was wrapping up their practice.

Instead of hitting the locker room, they chose a different way to cool down.

"When I'm struggling through a race, a lot of people cheering me on so I wanted to help the kid out," said Jason Owens, a senior at Gateway.

As soon as Damari crossed the finish line he and the team went their separate ways.

But that doesn't mean he's forgotten their kind gesture.

"I would tell them 'thank you' so much for helping me get to that cup," said Damari.

That kind gesture continues.

One of the football coaches plans to invite Damari and his mom to next week's home game and have him hang out in the locker room and on the field with the team.