Fueled by community support, Saluda High School junior scores touchdown, defies odds

Fueled by community support, Saluda High School junior scores touchdown, defies odds
Updated: Aug. 27, 2018 at 8:53 PM EDT
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SALUDA COUNTY, SC (WIS) - Last Friday night's football game between Saluda High School and Ridge Spring Monetta is one Fulton Winn won't soon forget.

The junior Saluda Tiger with autism doesn't let the disability get in the way of his goals. A football player since middle school, this year marks the first year Winn is playing on varsity.

During last Friday night's game, coaches put Winn in the game and called a play specifically for him.

"I just ran my route as fast as I could," Winn said. "I wanted to get down to the end zone and be open."

The pass, coming from quarterback Madison Williams, was launched 30 yards downfield and to everyone's amazement, Winn caught the ball over the back of the defender in the end zone.

"The guy was bobbling it so I kind of grabbed it and it was in the end zone," Winn said.

As Winn made the catch and the play stood, fans and teammates alike erupted in celebration, so much so the team received a penalty for excessive celebration. That mattered very little to Head Coach Stewart Young.

"Fulton caught the ball and it was an amazing moment," Young said. "It was a roar and our kids take off running to the end zone without any hesitation and that was the most amazing part."

Winn said he didn't hear his name announced over the loudspeaker because his teammates were on top of him.

"It was the greatest moment of my life," he said. "We are a family and this is what we do."

Winn's mother, Jeannie Winn, said the outpouring of support and love the family has received from the Saluda community is second to none.

"The special part of Friday night was the reaction of his teammates, coaches, cheerleaders and the student section after he made the catch," she said. "The phone calls, texts and messages we've received on social media is overwhelming."

Williams, who threw the pass to Winn, said he's an inspiration to those on the team.

"He is special and he do everything right in every way and he always goes 110 percent in everything he does," he said.

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