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Program gives special needs students full-inclusion experiences

Funk help his team. (Photo: WKRN)
Funk help his team. (Photo: WKRN) (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

WRKN – FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WKRN) - Outside of Nashville, Tenn. - Franklin Road Academy's football season is off to a great start.

The team is 5-0 and players said they are eager to introduce fans to a stand-out teammate. Just the mention of his name brings smiles to the players' faces.

Funk help his team. (Photo: WKRN)
Funk help his team. (Photo: WKRN)

"Rob Funk, that is the man. Rob Funk that is the man," Runnin Back Sam Harvin exclaimed.

Rob Funk has been the team's manager for four years. He's also one of the first graduating seniors from Franklin Road Academy's Heart to Heart program - a program designed to create full inclusion for students with Down syndrome.

Team members said Funk is the highlight of their playing experience.

"As you see on Friday nights, he runs and gets the Tee for us. He sprints out there with all that he has. He comes back and he's tired after one, but he gives it all that he has so we love it with him," Quarterback Spence Jones shared,

Head Coach Bill Whittemore said he is inspired by what he sees in Funk. And organizers with Heart to Heart are thankful athletes embraced him as one of the team.

Rob Funk (Photo: WKRN)
Rob Funk (Photo: WKRN)

David Dawson with Heart to Heart said, "Every Thursday they go and have dinner at one of the senior's houses. He goes with them just like everybody else does. It is so awesome when I get a picture the next day of all the seniors laying on the couch at their house and he's right there in the middle of them."

The Heart to Heart program has been a great opportunity for Funk, and he's been a gift to the players.

And rob has been a gift to the players...

"I don't really know what I am going to do, I don't know what the school is going to do without him. He is going to be missed severely," Dawson added.