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Breakfast: Hometown Huddle brings smiles to Texans, Special Olympics athletes


See photos from community events around the city of Houston.

The ball is hiked. The girl takes off. After a few steps she breaks outside but quickly cuts it back toward the middle of the field. The ball leads her to the end of her route and she catches it cleanly.

Kevin Johnson can't help but smile. The first-year cornerback turns to wide receiver and fellow rookie Keith Mumphery and laughs.

"She is running just as good a route as you!"

Johnson and Mumphery, along with the rest of the rookie class, had a blast teaching (and getting shown up by) 100 Special Olympics athletes at the Hometown Huddle Football Camp Tuesday morning at the Houston Texans YMCA.

The Texans, in partnership with Special Olympics of Texas and the United Way, hosted a flag football camp with athletes from around the city as a way for them to further their skills for future Special Olympic contests.

"It just makes my day," head coach Bill O'Brien said after the event. "I love it. It takes you away from the grind a little bit, which is a good thing. They aren't worried about the Miami Dolphins. They are worried about living every day to its fullest and I think that's important. Everybody's life is so important. Everybody counts."

O'Brien understands how impactful these events can be. He and his wife, Colleen, have been involved with the Special Olympics for years. Their son, Jack, who has courageously battled Lissencephaly, a rare brain formation disorder, has competed in Special Olympics in the past.

"There's more things to life than football," O'Brien said. "It makes you feel great that you can be out here to support the group and seeing the smiles on their faces is just awesome."

The rookie class rotated between various football stations, and along with volunteers from the United Way and coaches from Special Olympics of Texas, helped throw passes, coach drills, and most importantly, make kids laugh.

"This means the world to them," defensive tackle Christian Covington said. "To see the smiles on their faces, this just brings joy to all of us. To be out here on a day like this, you can't ask for anything better. There's a little kid in all of us, and to be able to come out here, play some ball with these kids, it brings out the kid in me."

"It's always fun to be able to be a positive influence in people's lives," Johnson added. "We are just regular people and people look up to us, but we are looking up to them. We learn just as much from them as they do from us. This is a special opportunity to come out here and support the Special Olympics."

The camp ended with an ultra-competitive 40-yard dash between athletes of different age groups, and the fastest campers received an award from the Texans. A few wanted to race the rookies, but understandably, no Texan wanted to get embarrassed and left in the dust.

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