December 18, 2018
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Maine university’s football team signs 11-year-old with rare genetic disorder

CBS 13 | BDN
CBS 13 | BDN
Scott Carignan, 11, signed with the University of New England football team as the first Maine participant for Team Impact, a national organization that pairs college sports teams with children battling life-threatening or developmental disabilities. Carignan is seen here with his mother, Margaret Carignan.

BIDDEFORD, Maine — It was a big day for the University of New England football team, and its newest player.

He may not be the biggest or fastest guy on the team, but he is already a winner.

Draft day is always a big deal at UNE, but Thursday’s selection might just be one of the best ever.

When 11-year-old Scott Carignan signed on the dotted line Thursday, he assured the team is going to have a winning season.

“I am excited and pumped and I hope we have a good year this year,” Carignan said.

Scott is now officially part of the UNE Nor’easters football team, but he took some time to horse around Thursday on the basketball court.

So why Scott?

He’s the first member of Team Impact in Maine, a national organization that pairs college teams with kids with developmental issues or life-threatening illnesses.

Scott has a genetic disorder known as Williams syndrome. According to the National Institutes of Health, Williams syndrome affects one out of every 7,500 to 10,000 people.

“He can chat and laugh, he’s always happy,” said his father, Robert Carignan. “But except for language and music — which is usually elevated — the brain scans [of people with Williams syndrome] are much like [you see with] Down syndrome.”

Scott gets special therapy and education, but don’t underestimate his ability to teach.

“We preach being selfless as a person and staying humble and learning to serve your community, serving your teammates at the same time, putting team priorities ahead of your own,” Coach Mike Lichten said. “The relationship with Scotty is a real-life moment being able to exhibit those skills, those priorities.”

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