LANSING, Mich.—Sen. Tom Casperson is appealing to all Upper Peninsula residents and Honorary Yoopers everywhere to help write the next chapter of the Eric Dompierre story by supporting him and the Ishpeming High School football team in a nationwide, online contest.
“Eric Dompierre is an exceptional young man who, along with his parents, led the charge to change an antiquated state rule and enable Eric and students like him to participate in sports,” said Casperson, R-Escanaba. “Seeing this young man with Down Syndrome take the field and embraced by his teammates reminds us about the true purpose of sport. His selflessness and determination is inspirational, and I encourage everyone to help make this dream season even more memorable by voting for Eric and his teammates in Sports Illustrated’s Underdogs contest.”
In May, the Dompierres came to Lansing on behalf of more than 90,000 people who had signed a petition demanding that the Michigan High School Athletic Association adopt an equitable policy like that in 23 other states, balancing the special needs of disabled students with the need to protect the integrity of high school sports. The Senate unanimously approved a resolution sponsored by Casperson calling for the policy change, and in response, later that month, Michigan schools overwhelmingly approved a change providing for a limited waiver to the age eligibility rule.
“Due to the efforts of so many people who supported a compassionate rule change, Eric realized his dream of playing football this fall – and what a season it has been,” Casperson said. “Eric kicked extra points, made a couple field goals and even scored a touchdown; the Hematites are 8-1 going into the playoffs; and Eric’s struggle to play in his senior season was picked as one of ten stories featured in Sports Illustrated’s ‘Underdogs’ series.
“The series is also a contest with the winning team receiving a $25,000 donation and having ten team members treated to a trip to Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year Award Ceremony in New York City. Let’s show our UP spirit and support Eric and his team.”
Supporters can vote as many times as they want to between now and Nov. 15. Casperson called on Yoopers everywhere to once again show the same U.P. spirit that led them to help Grand Marais win the Readers Digest “We Hear You America” contest last year when they were led by Jack Hubbard to log 1.2 million on-line votes to help save the Grand Marais Harbor. “The U.P. and Eric Dompierre both have very special spirits. Working together we can once again show one and all that the U.P. is someplace truly special and Eric Dompierre is someone truly special” said Casperson.
Residents can vote online at: www.si.com/underdogs/vote.html. On the website visitors can also click on the Heart of the Team episode link to see the 7-minute-long documentary.