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Buddy program continues to be staple of Big 33 experience

The buddies of the Big 33 players, coaches and cheerleaders play a critical role during the gameday experience.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Since 1985, children with special needs have been apart of the Big 33's annual All -Star football game. 

The experience for the buddies, as they are called, is a fun one, partnering with the players, coaches and cheerleaders for an epic gameday experience. 

Some buddies have been apart of the Big 33 since as young as five-years-old and continue to stay in contact with their favorite players.

"I always have fun meeting the players and staying in contact with them over the years," said Max Barn. "They got a laugh out of me just telling them jokes, having lunch with them, and tossing the football."

The buddies always pack the stadium in support of their favorite players. They also get their moment to shine during the player introductions. 

Some take it to the next level, like Matt Joyce, who has been a buddy for years and helps out as a water boy on the sideline.

"I like to help them with water and Gatorade," said Joyce. "I am proud to be a buddy with Down Syndrome."

The players and buddies shared close moments all throughout the weekend. 

The bonds they create stick with the players for the rest of their life. 

The buddies are an important part of the players football journey and just part of what makes the Big 33 special.

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