On November 9, SOWI Young Athlete Bennett Chart and his family from New Berlin had a chance of a lifetime thanks to the Badgers Give Back program and their Wisconsin Shoe Project, which aims “to provide unforgettable moments that will help to transform the lives of youngsters going through difficult times.” In addition to getting to cheer on Wisconsin Football as they defeated the Iowa Hawkeyes, Bennett and his family were able to spend time on the field where they got to meet some of the players like star defensive back Madison Cone. As part of the Wisconsin Shoe Project, Bennett received a pair of custom Under Armour shoes signed by Cone. Here, Bennett’s father, Nathan, tell us a little more about that experience for the Chart family.
SOWI: Tell us a little bit about your family’s experience at the Badgers game.
Chart: This was an amazing once in a lifetime experience for Bennett and our family. From the time we were welcomed at the stadium until the time we left it was an awesome experience. All the details were planned out to make this a truly memorable event for us all. Seeing how happy Bennett was getting to meet the players and walk around on the field was awesome. Jackie and the staff from the Badgers were so welcoming and caring and could not have been better! Bennett’s needs were continuously taken into consideration as each activity was explained to ensure we felt like Bennett would be comfortable with it. They all also took the time to include Bennett’s brother Camden in on all the fun, which really meant a lot to him. Bennett’s disability can throw many challenging situations at Bennett and our family, so to have this time to just relax and make memories as a family was very appreciated!
SOWI: Describe a moment that seemed extra special to Bennett and the family.
Chart: The most special moment was watching Bennett dance with the marching band on the field after the game. Bennett loves music, so he felt right at home starting a little dance party on the field as the Badgers band played around him. He had the biggest smile on his face!
SOWI: What would you like the Badgers Give Back program to know about the Wisconsin Shoe Project and the impact it makes in children’s lives?
Chart: Ultimately, that this experience was so appreciated by Bennett as well as our entire family. There are obviously difficult days and times as our family navigates Bennett’s changing needs, but having people like Jackie, Jenna, the players and everyone else involved in this experience who show that they care and want to provide Bennett with an unforgettable moment really means a lot to us. It shows that we are definitely not alone in this journey. We are always looking for ways of celebrating Bennett’s uniqueness as opposed to dwelling on the challenges, and participating in the Wisconsin Shoe Project really was one of these times for our family. Bennett had an amazing time and so did Camden and the rest of our family. Having a sibling with special needs can pose special challenges for siblings, and after the game, Camden told us that this experience was the best day of his life!
SOWI: What does your family plan to do with the shoes from the event?
Chart: Bennett wears them all the time! He didn’t waste any time, and wore them at 7 am the next morning to his brother’s hockey game. He likes pointing at them to show everyone his new shoes. He uses his communication device to tell people that he got new shoes from the Badgers whenever he can!