NEWARK (DE): The annual Blue and Gold all-star football game was well under way on Saturday as hundreds of fans packed the stadium at the University of Delaware for the Delaware Foundation Reaching Citizens (DFRC) 62nd annual Blue and Gold football event.
So what’s the big deal? It’s just a football game with high school football players, right? The Blue and Gold football game is more than just a game and it all started on a Saturday afternoon in 1956 when high school students from across Delaware entered a stadium to play football. Players, cheerleaders, and fans gathered for a game that featured more than touchdowns – it raised money to help improve the lives of hundreds of Delaware children with intellectual disabilities.
According to DFRC, that event was the first annual Blue-Gold All★Star Football Game. DFRC’s founders, Bob Carpenter and Jim Williams, two local sports enthusiasts who were the parents of children with intellectual disabilities, inspired the game. They wanted to host a sporting event that spread awareness about intellectual disabilities. At that time, people with intellectual disabilities outnumbered those with cerebral palsy, polio, and blindness. While there were nationwide campaigns to collect funds for individuals with physical disabilities, there were no local fundraising campaigns to help people with intellectual disabilities.
In 1956, the dream came true and the first Blue-Gold football Game was played on August 25,1956. DFRC’s founders, Bob Carpenter and Jim Williams inspired the game as they wanted to host a fundraising event to spread awareness about intellectual disabilities, while raising funds for programs that serve these children.
Thank you to everyone who came out to the DFRC Blue-Gold All★Star Football Game on Saturday! We appreciate all of your support!
— DFRC Foundation (@DFRCBlueGold) June 19, 2017
The Blue and Gold is not the only program DFRC has. The Hand-In-Hand Program was added in 1974 to help the high school participants of the Blue and Gold become more aware and accepting of those who the game benefits – people with intellectual disabilities. Until 1994, the All*Star program included queen candidates representing each of the high schools. In 1994 the Ambassador Program was established to help build greater awareness, leadership, and activity into the high schools.
Today more than fifty public, private, parochial, vo-tech and charter schools across the entire state are invited to participate, helping to spread DFRC’s message of diversity and acceptance throughout their schools and communities.
With increased focus on education and awareness, DFRC continues to adapt the needs of the community.
“we want to help all Delawareans understand intellectual disabilities as a natural part of the human experience and amplify our sharing of valuable lessons about diversity and acceptance.”
So here’s the big deal, not every great athlete is the chosen one. imagine being one of 36 top High School football players in your state and being chosen to play against other top high school football players. That’s exactly what happens at the Blue and Gold football game. It’s a time when top athletes come together to play against each other. Just last week, these players received top recognition in the state at the Delaware High School Sports Awards. These are the top high school athletes in the state.
So how are kids chosen? There are several ways that students can participate in the DFRC Blue-Gold All*Star Football experience. High school students are designated by their individual school officials to participate as Ambassadors, Band Members, Cheerleaders, and Football Players. All of these students are integral parts of the Blue-Gold Program and Game each year. Students attending high schools without varsity football teams may still participate as an Ambassador, Band Member, or Cheerleader.
Players are nominated by their own high school Head Football Coach, and then approved by their school’s Athletic Director and Principal through a character verification process. All-State or All-Conference athletes are not automatically selected to play in the Blue-Gold Game. All players nominated must meet Blue-Gold character standards. The Blue and Gold Head Coaches, selected by The Delaware Interscholastic Football Coaches Association (DIFCA), then select team players to play in the Game from the nominees submitted.
Thirty-six players are selected for each team. The Blue Team consists of players from most high schools in New Castle County. The Gold Team is comprised of players from all high schools in Kent and Sussex counties, as well as the Christina and Appoqunimink District high schools. Each high school with a Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association sanctioned football team that has qualified seniors will have at least one representative on a Blue-Gold squad each year, however no school may have more than four representatives in a single year.
This year’s game started at 6:00 p.m. and ended with the Gold team with a score of 44-0, dominated over the Blue team and ended with Kenton Yellowdy’s 26-yard TD run.