Xander Torres started having seizures when he was 3 years old.
They'd last a few seconds, sometimes 30 seconds. They grew progressively worse, and eventually the toddler seized as often as 20 times a day.
“They would drop him flat on his butt no matter where he was or what he was doing,” said his mom, Sarah Torres of Omaha.
Doctors diagnosed Xander with epilepsy a few months later and then performed brain surgery. Now 9 years old, Xander has a seizure once every few months. Still, he often feels different than kids his age without disabilities, his mom said.
Not last weekend.
On Sunday, Xander, along with 800 children with disabilities and their family members, spent the evening with first-year student athletes at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The event, called Husker Heroes, is part of the Nebraska Life Skills program, which teaches student athletes at UNL leadership skills and the importance of community service.
“An experience like this really helped me understand why Nebraska is different than other places,” freshman I-back Terrell Newby told Husker blogger Randy York. “It's special.”
There was face painting, a fitness obstacle course, stations to play basketball, baseball and other sports and the athletes signed autographs, too.
Torres said Xander enjoyed meeting the football players and playing baseball the most.
“They were cheering him on,” she said. “The look on his face was priceless.”
She added that she'd happily bring Xander back to the event next year.
“He always feels different from others kids even though his disability isn't as noticeable as other kids' disabilities, so to see those athletes be so friendly and encouraging and accepting of him made him feel like a million bucks,” Torres said.
To read more about Husker Heroes, click here.
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