'Family is what it's all about': Freshman with cerebral palsy scores touchdown with help of brother who's a senior

Avery Heinz, who has cerebral palsy, scored a touchdown thanks to his brother, Wyatt. (Photo: Abby Heinz via Facebook)

For a lot of people growing up in the heartland of America, football is a way of life. While the NFL dominates Sunday nights on your television, there are diehard fans out in the stands at the local high school every Friday. For Kinsley, Kan., it isn’t always about the wins. Rather, it’s the teamwork and the comradeship that make the game worth playing.

On Friday night, Sept. 24, Kansas high schools Kinsley and Spearville faced off against each other. Regardless of the final score, there was one touchdown that will be remembered for years.

No. 80 for Kinsley High, freshman Avery Heinz, was able to run past the formidable Spearville team in order to score his first touchdown. On top of that, his opponent was his older brother, Wyatt, a senior.

Avery has cerebral palsy. When he was born, he spent 19 days in the hospital. According to his family members, they were told he probably would not come home.

“He had to use a walker for several years. He then threw that to the side and started just taking off on his own,” his mother, Abby Heinz, told Catch It Kansas. “(He) started walking, running. He’s all boy. He likes to do everything that other boys do.”

Avery’s uncle is Kyle Burkhart, which is a name you’d recognize in Kansas. The coach of Kinsley football has been a player himself, “He played college football for Southern Mississippi,” Abby said of her brother. “We traveled all the time down there. [Avery’s] been to football games all his life.”

Avery’s uncle gave him jerseys for the team. For anyone who grew up in a football town, you’d understand the meaning behind it.

“He didn’t say anything, but his reaction showed he knew exactly what it was,” Abby said.

Abby knows it was a special moment for Avery to suit up and to score a touchdown, but their town made it even more special. “It would’ve been great to see,” Abby said, even if it was later in his high school years and his brother wasn’t there, but Wyatt’s presence made it special. “He got to do this during the Kinsley-Spearville game. Wyatt played as a senior, and Wyatt got to run the field with him, and [Uncle Kyle] was coaching him. I mean, that’s really cool.”‘

Abby recognizes how lucky her family is that they got to play against each other. “Wyatt bought a football and had all of his teammates sign it and brought it to Kinsley and had their teammates sign it. As soon as Avery scored the touchdown, Wyatt grabbed the football and had both teams in a huddle giving Avery the ball.”

Wyatt told Catch It Kansas that it felt great to share the field with his brother. When Yahoo Lifestyle asked Abby about the comment, she paused. “You know,” she said, and thought for a second, “Family, in general, is what it’s all about. We’ve been blessed that both sides of our family are within a 10-mile radius of everybody… The kids grow up knowing their cousins and their extended family too.”

“He’s been watching me for seven or eight years. So it’s nice to finally get to share the field with him,” Wyatt said. 

“He just wants to be one of the guys, and the kids are just very supportive of him,” his uncle, Kyle Burkhart, said. 

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