Tock participates in the TOPSoccer program for children with
disabilities. His dad, Kevin, says Bryce has "the time of
his life every Saturday playing soccer in his
For an hour each
Saturday, Kevin Tock proudly watches his 5-year-old son, Bryce, smile
and laugh as he plays soccer, though Tock has a different perspective
on the game than most parents.
not there for the winning and the losing," Tock says. "Youíre
not there to cheer them on when they make a great play. You are
cheering on a moment when your kid smiles, when your kid laughs."
Bryce is a
paraplegic who plays soccer through the TOPSoccer program, a national
organization for children 4 to 19 years old who have mental or
physical disabilities. The Waukesha TOPSoccer program, which began
eight years ago, is the largest in the state with about 50 athletes
and 60 volunteers.
becomes a buddy for one of the athletes. Some older athletes also
become buddies to mentor and play with the younger participants.
"I feel like I am making a difference," says Maddie
Burgdorff, a senior at Arrowhead High School, who regularly volunteers
with the program. "A lot of the kids cannot respond, but they
will smile and you will know that you are doing something for
Nick Ray, also a
senior at Arrowhead, began volunteering two years ago and now
coordinates transportation of about 15 students who volunteer each
Saturday morning during the season, which starts up again in the fall.
"This has opened my eyes," says Ray, who has played soccer
since he was 4 years old. "In the grocery store, if I saw someone
with special needs, I might have looked away. Now I wave or say hello.
Itís made me more accepting and more comfortable as well. Itís
been a lot of fun."
parents alike appreciate the value of the mentoring program. "Itís
a real neat relationship," says Holly Olsen, whose son, Sam, is
in TOPSoccer. "They have a friend who is cool because they are in
honest, it changes you just as it does your kid," Tock says.