Middletown resident Andrew “Drew” Grunow was named last week as the All-Star Buddy for the Gold Team in the 59th Annual DFRC Blue-Gold All-Star Football Game at the University of Delaware Football Stadium on June 21.
Middletown resident Andrew “Drew” Grunow was named last week as the All-Star Buddy for the Gold Team in the 59th Annual DFRC Blue-Gold All-Star Football Game at the University of Delaware Football Stadium on June 21. This is the seventh year Grunow has participated in the Hand-in-Hand Program, which partners the game’s high school participants with children and young adults who have intellectual disabilities.
Q What’s it like to be named the All-Star Buddy for the Gold Team?
A It feels amazing! Every year at the DFRC events, I would say to myself, I wish I could be that kid, and now I am that kid. I met Larry Tucker, the first All-Star Buddy, at the Hand-in-Hand party. We shook hands. He was chosen as the All-Star Buddy when he was 9 years old and now he is 49. It was great to meet him. When I got the call and was asked to be the All-Star Buddy I said, “Thank you, I feel like an Olympian.”
Q How did you first get involved with the Hand-in-Hand Program and what do you enjoy about it?
A We heard about the DFRC program through a friend and they told us how wonderful it was. I like meeting my senior participant every year. All of the participants are like family to me. Every May, we invite my current and former participants over for my birthday and we have a big celebration. Some of them still meet me each year for the annual football game. This summer, one of them is getting married. She invited me to her wedding. DFRC is more than a program. It is where you meet life-long friends.
Q Do you know Matthew Lavelle, the All-Star Buddy for the Blue Team?
A I just met Matthew Lavelle and his family for the first time at the Hand-in-Hand party. We did not have the opportunity to talk that much but we were in a lot of pictures together. I hope that Matthew and I will be friends. I look forward to doing things together as we represent the Blue and Gold schools.
Q This year, your partner is MHS senior Dennis Berger. What have you guys done together?
A When I found out Dennis was my participant, I called him and we met at Dairy Queen. He said he plays baseball and football and he likes to fish. I am hoping to see him play at his baseball game next weekend. He might come see me when I take my riding lessons. We are also talking about fishing together. He is a really nice guy. I hope that Dennis and I can do a lot of fun stuff together and that we can still keep in touch with each other when he goes off to college.
Q If you could tell people one thing about what it's like to be a person with a disability, what would it be?
A Just because people have a disability doesn’t mean that they can’t do what others do. In September, I won some medals in the equestrian event for the Special Olympics at Carousel Park. I have made the AB honor roll every marking period for this school year. Last year, I won the geography bee for the whole school and this year I came in first place for eighth grade. My parents always tell me when things get hard to do my best. I believe that when I grow up I will teach my kids that, too.