Mark Leon has roamed the Dakota Ridge sideline for four years now. Put simply, there isn’t a bigger fan or supporter of Eagles football.
Mark has Down syndrome. He prides himself on being the team’s long-time manager.
“Even though he maybe doesn’t suit up and play, he’s as much a part of the team as anyone. He’s an inspiration for the kids and the kids love him,” said head coach Ron Woitalewicz.
The support Mark gives the players is often returned. There’s not a better example than the annual Step Up for Down Syndrome walk that the senior takes part in. You can’t miss him. He usually shows up with quite an entourage.
“It feels good because I get the support,” Leon told 9NEWS.
“We do it because Mark is close to us and this means the world to him,” said Eagles player Brant Seeley.
The walk gives a traveling trophy every year to the high school with the highest participation, and Mark wants that trophy. With more than 100 participants Dakota Ridge was announced as the winner.
It’s the third straight year the Eagles have received the honor.
“The team gets excited for it, for good reason too,” said junior Brock Howes. “I enjoy it and he gets excited for it. It’s nice to see him get excited about something.”
Mark always has had the backs of the Dakota Ridge players. As he took a victory lap on their shoulder, it was clear that they, too, have Mark’s back.