BY BRIAN RZEPPA
Crowds descended upon Trenton High School in droves that seemed reminiscent of a classic Friday night football rivalry game early this fall. This event however, took place on a Saturday afternoon and was perhaps more important to those in attendance than any game they’ve attended in the past.
For the eighth year in a row, Trenton High School played host to Victory Day, a project created by Trojans defensive coordinator Aaron Segedi to give children with cognitive and physical impairments a chance to have their moment in the spotlight on the football field.
Much like the previous eight events, this year’s Victory Day was a roaring success and was able to build on the momentum that it has generated over the years.
“We had hundreds of people in the stands along with 60 participants and 80 football players with teams from Trenton, Woodhaven, Lincoln Park, Taylor Truman, Allen Park, Flat Rock, Riverview and Gibraltar. Along with that we had cheer teams from four different schools,” said Segedi.
While the event creates opportunities and moments that will be unforgettable for those involved, there was a story from the day that specifically came to mind for Segedi that encapsulated what the event is all about.
“There was a boy that was 7 or 8-years old in a wheelchair and at the end of the day his mentor, Ethan Riley, picked him up and walked him up to get his medal and it was really great. His mom had tons of happy tears and he was so excited.”
As the time has gone on and Victory Day begins to take shape on campuses across the country — including 12 other schools holding their Victory Day on Sept. 16 alone — Segedi has received a push toward holding more than one event each year.
“Many people have said that they want us to do another one soon or just do multiple Victory Days each year. We’re getting so big right now with being at 60 kids that we’re pretty much at capacity right now and it’s tough to turn some kids away. Doing two events would be tough, but I understand where they’re coming from.”
Along with a push for a second event each year, Segedi has plans for the immediate future in terms of community involvement for future Victory Days.
“As things have started to pick up, people want to come be part of it and cheer these kids on. Our student section was there this year and our plan for next year is to have all of the Downriver League schools bring their student section to cheer the kids on. We had the home stands jam packed this year and we want the away ones to be, too.”
Though the event has continued to grow at a rapid pace around the country — including even reaching the Division 1 level at Iowa State University — Segedi has set his sights much higher in terms of the future of the event.
“It humbles me to see all of the other schools around the country doing it and we’re really proud of that. My ultimate goal is that it continues to grow and we can eventually move it to the NFL and make it a part of Super Bowl week.” Segedi said. “Everyone can dream of doing something and I think this one could really be achievable because of the positive impact it has. Along with that, we’d love to be able to pick up an athletic apparel company that could donate jerseys to every Victory Day around the country.”
With programs all around the country at the high school and collegiate level, Segedi is still incredibly grateful for the Trenton community that helped kick-start the program.
“The School Board and the City Council have been very supportive, as has the Rotary that gave me my start with the program when I came to them eight years ago. With our sponsors too and the community as a whole, there’s so many great people that have made this possible and I have so much gratitude toward them.”