Mozey: Campbell developed a great event in Victory Day

Dallas Cooper runs down the field for a touchdown alongside Reggie Wilkerson (3) and Willie Harvey (7) during Victory Day on Aug. 25. Victory Day gives children with disabilities the opportunity to meet and participate in drills with Cyclone football players.

Brian Mozey

Jack Trice Stadium had its lights on for two hours on Friday night. It wasn’t a football game though. It was Victory Day with coach Matt Campbell and Iowa State football players.

Victory Day is an event Campbell brought from Toledo, focusing on children with disabilities and giving them an opportunity to play football for an evening. The Iowa State football players bring the children to five different stations to give them a taste of each part of football.

The most popular station and my favorite station was the touchdown run. The child is put into a huddle with the Iowa State offense and runs a ball from the 20-yard line and scores a touchdown.

Each time, the band plays a song to celebrate the touchdown and the child gets to spike the ball and perform a fun dance in the end zone with 20 Iowa State football players.

How can you not love the sport of football with these types of events?

For two straight hours, my arms had goosebumps. Most of the parents of these children had tears in their eyes. 

The big part of this event is that the football players not only understand what this evening meant to the children, but also what it meant to themselves. These players didn’t participate in this event because they were forced by Campbell. It was a decision by the individual player understanding the opportunity and privilege they have as Division I football players.

“This is a reminder of how lucky we are to play football here,” said redshirt senior wide receiver Trever Ryen. “It really means a lot to us.”

“Not everyone gets to run on Jack Trice and giving our time for these guys, it means the world to me and it means the world to them.”

When I was walking around Friday evening, every football player I saw had a smile on their face and a phone in their hand. The phone wasn’t being used to text or surf the Internet. It was being used to document the night through video, photo or Snapchat.

They wanted to hold onto the memories for future years to come.

Last year, Victory Day was a surprise to every player because Campbell didn’t give the players details. He just told the team to keep the evening open and be ready to have some fun. They found out the day of the meaning behind Victory Day.

This year, the players knew about the event and were looking forward to the day, especially after three straight weeks of fall camp. It was time for a change and I don’t blame them.

Campbell appreciated everyone’s support from the event and hopes to make it bigger and better with each year in the future.

Before he spoke to the media that Friday evening, Campbell ran to the dance team and cheerleaders to thank them for their help. Then, he climbed up the ladder to send his thank you to the band. Then, he came to the media to speak about the event.

“This is powerful and it was fun to watch our kids tonight as much as the children and seeing the smiles on their faces,” Campbell said. “It’s what makes a program special and I’m grateful to be a part of it and coach such great kids that are willing to do it.”

This just shows how much this event means to Campbell even in the second year of it at Iowa State.

I hope this event continues for many years because there’s a value and meaning behind this event. Campbell said Toledo is continuing this event even though Campbell is gone. Whether Campbell is here for five, 10, 20 or 40 years at Iowa State, I hope this will continue through the generations of the Iowa State football program.

I’m ready for the third annual Victory Day.