An Ohio senior-living community scored big with its residents last week, hosting a mock Super Bowl complete with locker-room pep talks, “tackling” and color commentary.

Willow Brook Christian Village activities director Connie McNeal said she was inspired by volunteer Jacob Jarvis to create last week’s event. A student who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Jarvis spends two days a week helping Willow Brook residents. He also looks past any limitations of his wheelchair and dreams of becoming a sports announcer.

During the game Feb. 2, the building’s activity center was transformed into a makeshift football field complete with yard lines, pylons and sideline cheerleaders.

“Our staff is all-in on anything we do,” activities director Connie McNeal told McKnights. “On this one, they just took the ball and ran with it.”

Residents stepped in as players for either the Groundhogs or the Village 99ers, tackling opposing players by detaching a gauzy scarf from either of their shoulders. Several women parked their chairs along the field, waving blue-and-white pom-poms.

Residents of all abilities participated, including some from the campus’ skilled nursing unit and others who need memory support. Two aides teamed up to help one resident catch a pass.

McNeal served as emcee, stepping in for Jarvis, who fell ill on game day. Residents tried to buy her favor with packs of gum, but she said she did her best to remain neutral. 

In the end, the Groundhogs won 7-0. McNeal said she has organized sports events previously, and looks forward to getting her residents back on the field this spring for a game against a local reenactment group that dresses in Civil War era baseball uniforms.

Editor’s note: Be sure to keep an eye on this space and future The Brighter Side installments for if and when that happens.