VIDEO: Redskins Throw Surprise Holiday Party for Loudoun Special Needs Students

By Renss Greene & Danielle Nadler

Some of Leesburg’s biggest Redskins fans got an experience of a lifetime last week when four players from the pro football team paid them a visit.

Tuscarora High School’s Brightlife Buddies, now known as Husky Buddies, a club for the school’s special education students, heard they might have special guests drop in to their weekly meeting. But they were surprised by who showed up.

Placekicker Dustin Hopkins, outside linebacker Houston Bates, guard Arie Kouandjio and defensive back Lee Hightower spent the afternoon hanging with the Husky Buddies. They played games, granted requests for autographs, and even sang a couple of holiday songs with the kids.

“I’m a big fan,” Isaiah Wilson, a sophomore, said with an arm around Hightower. The 16-year-old told the athletes to continue working hard on and off the field.

[See the video of the visit below and a slideshow here.]

Organizing the players’ visit was a team effort.

Carder Saul, co-president of the Huskie Buddies club and a Tuscarora senior, wanted to give the students something special to celebrate the holidays. He solicited the help of Ana Gonzalez, a junior who also works with the club. She, in turn, talked to her dad, Washington Redskins’ coordinator Ben Kotwica.

“A lot of the kids in [Husky Buddies] are big on sports—and big Redskins fans. With my connection with my father, I just thought, let’s get them here.”

Carder and Ana have big plans for the Huskie Buddies group for the spring, too. They are organizing what will be the first career day for special needs teens and young adults in Loudoun County.

“There’s so much potential here,” Carder said. “They’re capable of amazing things. They need someone to come alongside them and believe in them.”