Down Syndrome Center Helps Young Athletes Reach for the Stars at Football Camp

Male athletes with Down syndrome had the chance to play football with local high school teams at a two-night football camp sponsored by the Down Syndrome Center at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and the Down Syndrome Association of Pittsburgh on June 14 and 15.

The Football Camp for the STARS was founded in 2010 and partners with Woodland Hills High School and Thomas Jefferson High School football programs to lead the camp.

Coaches for the program included Jim Tomsula, defensive coach of the Washington Redskins’ and Pittsburgh native, George Novak, retired head football coach of Woodland Hills High School, and Bill Cherpak, head football coach of Thomas Jefferson High School. One varsity member of each football team served as a mentor for one athlete with Down Syndrome.

The camp concluded with a performance of the National Anthem and a tag football game with all 25 participants. Each athlete received a personalized jersey to wear during the game. The event had a wonderful turnout, sunny skies, and lots of big smiles.

For more information on our Down Syndrome Center, visit