Special Olympics brings a family closer

The Zamansky brothers will compete at the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle.

On and off the field, the Zamansky brothers are a team.

The young men are members of the Haverhill Angels, a Special Olympics flag football team from Massachusetts. Eric, 32, who has Cerebral Palsy, is a wide receiver. Andrew, 28, who is autistic, is the quarterback. Alex, 24, plays with the team as a Unified partner and is the defensive star.

“They just love all sports,” said the boys’ mother, Lesley Zamansky. In addition to football, they’ve played baseball and basketball, and Eric played football in high school.

“These athletes, all they want to do is be included,” said the Angels’ coach, Jay Barnes. “They want to feel accepted; they want to compete.”

The Angels even have a signature play: on the game’s opening drive, Eric will race down the field and Andrew will try to hit him in the end zone, right from the first snap.

“Coach Jay, he likes to call the play ‘the bomb,’” said Eric.

“It shows off how good my arm is,” quips Andrew.

The success on the field - they won the state title at the home stadium of the New England Patriots - has made all the boys more confident, especially the team’s field general, Andrew.

“Andrew has definitely benefitted the most,” said Lesley Zamansky. “He's gone from this boy who didn't say a word to somebody who's very, very vocal.”

“With sports, I can connect with other people in a way that I just couldn't before,” said Andrew. “It makes me happy, and playing with everyone else, it's just fun.”

The Angels will be competing in the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle, Washington. Bank of America is a Platinum Partner of 2018 Special Olympics USA Games and has a long-standing relationship with Special Olympics, dating back over 30 years. It’s all part of the bank’s ongoing commitment to achieving the goal of a more diverse and inclusive society. And that goal is incredibly personal to the brothers, who get to play together on the same team - Andrew and Eric as athletes and Alex as a Unified partner.

“[They’re] all together,” said Lesley Zamansky. “And that's really what's most important.”

“These athletes are true leaders,” said Coach Barnes. “They help mentor my younger kids. They get right in, they start with drills with them, and it's great to see that these athletes have so much unconditional love to give.”

Off the field, the Zamansky’s are a tight-knit crew. Andrew is the official baby sitter for Eric’s young son while his brother works a day job in the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune’s printing facility.

“I love my brothers,” said Eric. “I would do anything for them.”

The entire Zamansky family is grateful for the impact Special Olympics has had on their lives - and how sports have positively impacted their lives as a whole.

“I learned as teammates that when we’re working together, and we're in sync with each other, we feel like nothing can break us, that nothing can stop us, that no one can beat us,” said Alex.

“My athletes are definitely better people because of this,” said Coach Barnes. “I want them to come back. I want them to take what they got out of Seattle, and I want them to put it into use, either coaching, or in their family lives or even in their community.”

5/14/18


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