A Delaware senior-living facility wanted to give Jake Jarvis the chance to reach his goal -- if only on a small scale.
Jarvis, a student at the Delaware Area Career Center, has worked two mornings a week for the past year at Willow Brook Christian Village, where he helps residents, cleans floors and spruces up wheelchairs.
Jarvis has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, an incurable neurological disease, and uses a wheelchair himself. He wants to be a sports announcer.
So on the eve of one of sport's biggest weekends, Connie McNeal, the center's activities director, did everything she could to re-create a Super Bowl for Jarvis to let him work the mic as announcer.
An activity room was taped off with "yard lines," and the corners were marked with pylons. Two teams of residents huddled in locker rooms and received pep talks from coaches.
The national anthem played.
And there were wisecracks.
"Hey, Connie -- where's the flyover?" resident Don Bennett asked.
Village Groundhogs coach John Regalsky, the facility's life-enrichment coordinator, baited the opposing Village 99ers, the team's name a nod to their ages.
The teams -- four players each -- used an inflatable football. The rules: One quarterback, one center, and "all other players just tackle."
Of course, "tackling" meant removing a piece of cloth connected to each player's shoulder. One man needed help from two aides, but he caught a pass.
A contest for best Howard Cosell impression split the 15-minute halves.
On the sideline bench, cheerleader Phyllis Wood jumped and shook pompoms just as she did in the 1930s for Middletown High School in Butler County.
At 95, Wood said the secret to her vitality is drawn from her father's advice: "Learn a new poem, sing a new song. He gave us that attitude. We all have our aches and pains and rough spots, but you have to have attitude, courage and conviction."
As Marlene Andersen bellowed, "M&Ms, popcorn, no beer here" to the crowd of about 100, there also was some sadness. Jarvis' mother had called that day to say her son had fallen ill and wouldn't make the game.
"It's really sad, because this was for him," said Mary Rees, who oversaw the concession standAlex McCue of Heartland Hospice took over the announcing duties.
"Being part of hospice, we really try to promote quality of life and bring joy and smiles," said McCue, an Ohio State University cheerleader 10 years ago.
The Village Groundhogs won 7-0 and hoisted the trophy. But everyone appeared victorious.