Jaguars’ rookies join Special Olympics athletes at camp

Fun event creates memorable day for all involved


The Jacksonville Jaguars teamed up with Special Olympics to provide a memorable experience for 63 local special needs individuals.

It is an annual event that the Jaguars host each summer and one that the special needs community in Northeast Florida looks forward to.

The experience included a jam-packed day of fun experiences including a tour of EverBank Stadium, well as a stop in the locker room where each attendee was given their own personalized jersey and got to see their name placed above their locker.

The locker nameplates were given to each attendee to take home as a souvenir to remember the day that was, which also included the Special Olympics athletes signing one-day contracts to become members of the Jaguars team.

Taylor Simpson was one of the Special Olympics athletes that took part in the day’s festivities, which as a diehard Jaguars fan was a dream of his.

He was excited to be able to go through the experience with his family by his side.

“We’ve always been big football fans, and I think it is great fun to be out there on the field,” Simpson said.

Simpson’s favorite player is Trevor Lawerence, and he was looking forward to the opportunity to throw during the drills because his favorite position is quarterback.

Other than getting to be on the field with the players, his favorite part of the day was when he got his jersey and saw his name on the back of it.

After their contract signings, they made their way to the field to take a photo where the professionals play and then went to the flex field where they met and took part in various drills with members of the Jaguars’ rookie class.

“I know everyone in this (rookie) class is really passionate about serving the local community,” said Jaguars kicker Cam Little, who was recently drafted in the sixth round out of the University of Arkansas.

According to Little, some of the guys have even done things and always looked to get involved in supporting community initiatives while they were in college and that will only carry over now that they are professional athletes.

Being out on the field and interacting with fans at the camp could not help but flood back the memories of when Little was a child and got to get up close and personal with his favorite athletes.

“I went to a lot of Oklahoma City Thunder things when I was younger and I still remember those days,” Little said. “Just to know the impact that I can have on the younger generation is something I put up there with every accomplishment I’ve ever had on the field. It can go unnoticed a lot, but it’s such a necessity to use the platforms that we have as professional athletes.”

It was a touching moment for all those involved, and the smiles and laughs were endless for both athletes, Jaguars players and the families watching from the sidelines.

Special needs is something that has always been close to Little’s heart and as a result he developed a relationship with the Down Syndrome Connection of Northwest Arkansas while in college.

“Obviously, I’m looking to continue that legacy here as well, and it’s definitely something that’s near and dear to my heart,” Little said. “I’m currently on the search to find a down syndrome association around here, and eventually I want to start a foundation of my own.”