Casey announces 247th pick of the NFL draft
By Sparta Live | May 9, 2019 10:28 am
By Rachel Auberger
Jordan Casey, a unified athlete at White County High School, was chosen to announce the 247th pick in this year’s NFL draft, which was held in Nashville.
The 16-year-old was chosen to announce a pick in the seventh round of the draft after he had traveled to San Diego, California, earlier this year as one of White County High School’s representatives at the Unified Champion School Conference.
“Jordan is a natural leader,” Karen Benningfield, one of Casey’s teachers, said about why he was chosen as one of the school’s representatives for the conference. “Kids come to him when they need advice.”
While in San Diego, Casey spoke about choosing to include, friendship, and the importance of being a Unified Champion School – a school that promotes social inclusion by bringing together students with and without intellectual disabilities through sports, clubs, initiatives, and promoting leadership among student-athletes.
Casey made a strong impression on the state officials of Special Olympics Unified Sports, and it wasn’t long before they contacted Benningfield about him making an announcement at the annual NFL draft.
Casey, a running back on the White County Unified flag football team, was excited for the opportunity to be involved in the draft.
“There were a whole bunch of people,” he said of his initial reaction to his draft experience. “The stage was really big. I could see it as I walked across the [pedestrian] bridge to get to the stadium.”
Casey, who was accompanied by Coach Brian Everett and Everett’s son, Jack, was escorted by a security detail and given a tour of the back stage and inner workings of the onsite production studio before being shown to box seats where they were able to watch early rounds of the draft.
“They had cameras and microphones and a lot of people taking phone calls and writing the teams’ picks on cards,” said Casey, who, as a student in audio visual department at the high school, was impressed with the behind-the-scenes work.
When his turn came, Casey proudly walked to the center of the stage and announced, “With the 247th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Minnesota Vikings select Olabisi Johnson, wide receiver, Colorado State.”
“I messed up how to say his name,” Casey laughed. “But I guess it was OK.”
Casey, who smiles and high fives fellow students as he walks through the halls of the school every day and leads his teammates and classmates by example, wasn’t always so ready to be in the public eye. After a rough few years in which his family moved from Tennessee, but then he and his sister had to return to live with grandparents because of their mother passing away, Casey found himself lacking confidence or a reason to smile.
Through Unified Sports, Casey found the courage to smile and laugh again. As a unified athlete, he participates on the bocce, football, basketball, and volleyball teams as well as having recently begun power lifting.
“Courage is the ability to act on one’s belief despite danger or disapproval,” Kelli Reed, basketball coach said. “Courage is bold, daring, and brave. Jordan Casey exemplifies courage every day, in everything he does. He is the face of courage, the voice of genuine love, and the kind of person that everyone should strive to be more like. I am a better person because of Jordan Casey.”
“I believe you can do everything with God,” Casey said about his new-found outlook on life. “I have preached a few times at church. People listen to me.”
His pastor, Howard Gorter, of Valley View Baptist Church, agrees.
“Jordan is growing into a very great young man,” Gorter said. “He has overcome a lot of adversity in such a short time and is an excellent example of what God can do with a life. I’m blessed to have the opportunity to work with him and help him grow into the man of God he can truly be.”
“He is an amazing person, an inspiration to all who meet him,” Laura Everett, school psychologist, added. “And he represents the best of White County High School.