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For Kurt, First Things First

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Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner (left) gives a handshake and hug to a special Olympian during Tuesday morning's clinic at the Cards' complex.

Kurt Warner watched the special Olympian tumble through the "touchdown" part of the obstacle course and Warner asked for a celebration dance.

The kid got up and did a passable imitation of linebacker Karlos Dansby's "Dirty Bird" sack dance, much to the delight of Warner and teammates Neil Rackers, Mike Barr and Lang Campbell.

The laughs symbolized why Warner, wife Brenda and the Warners' First Things First Foundation held their third annual punt, pass and kick clinic for Arizona's special Olympians Tuesday morning.

"(This is for) just the joy and fun of these young people who love life," said Bob Stadheim, whose son Brett has been a part of the camp for all three years. "They don't have to have a lot to be happy. They don't need stuff, like Lexuses or Cadillacs, they just love life for what it is. And life to these kids is about fun and enjoyment.

"Kurt loves the realness of life and has such a big heart. He is like an uncle to all of them, like a favorite uncle. I can't say enough about the guy."

Held at the Cardinals' Tempe complex, 52 special Olympians turned out to be tutored by Warner, Rackers and Barr. A few other teammates, like Campbell, Troy Bienemann and Tim Euhus, also popped in for cameos.

Warner led the encouragement and also was willing – along with Rackers and Barr – to help with the post-touchdown dances.

"These athletes always make everything go good  -- a lot of smiles, a lot of hugs," Warner said. "That's what it is about, giving them an experience they won't forget."

The Warners have a special-needs son themselves, which Brenda Warner said only underscores how important such children are.

"(The Olympians) show us how God loves us – they don't care what we look like, they don't care how much money Kurt makes or if he is the starting quarterback or he's not the starting quarterback," she said. "They just love him. It puts a balance in our life."

Afterward, Warner signed autographs and talked to all the kids – many of whom have attended multiple events with Warner and have gotten to know the Cardinals' quarterback over time.

"They know me, they know the routine," Warner said. "It is cool. It is about building relationships and having something that lasts for more than an afternoon."


Contact Darren Urban at askdarren@cardinals.nfl.net. Posted 9/25/07

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