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Warner's Special Clinic

Quarterback holds annual event for Special Olympians

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Kurt Warner encourages a Special Olympian during a drill Tuesday. For a photo gallery of the day's events, click here.
 
 
There were throws and kicks and a handful of touchdown dances.

But the best part for Kurt Warner, as he and wife Brenda hosted their annual punt, pass and kick clinic for Special Olympians at the Cardinals' Tempe facility, were the hugs.

"We don't care how far someone throws it or kicks it, or what kind of form they have," Warner said. "We just want them to have a good time. They are always willing to share hugs and high-fives and that's the best part."

Warner's First Things First foundation handpicks 50 athletes for the clinic, which was held for the fifth time Tuesday. Cardinals kicker Neil Rackers and punter Ben Graham were on hand to help, with running back Jason Wright and strength and conditioning coach John Lott also making appearances.

The subject is dear to the Warners' heart. Their son is disabled, so the couple is acutely aware of the limits those kids have in taking part in certain activities. When Kurt Warner first reached the NFL and watched the league put on punt, pass and kick competitions at games, he and his wife decided to create a similar event for Special Olympians.

Plus, in doing it year after year, "you get a great chance to connect with the kids and establish relationships," Warner said.

Not only did the Warners put on the event, but Brenda Warner will also be a keynote speaker at the Special Olympics Arizona's Breakfast With Champions Thursday morning at the Biltmore, which is open to the public (For more information, got to specialolympicsarizona.org).

"There is no better job in the world and it's all about the smiles and the hugs," said Tim Martin, CEO of Special Olympics Arizona. "The things you see from these athletes are things you'll never see in the world. You'll see an athlete fall down on the track and everyone will stop to pick him up. That doesn't happen in the real world often and maybe it should."

It's not just the athletes that get something out of the clinic, either.

"It definitely puts things in perspective," Rackers said. "There are things much more important than football. And this is the community that supports us and it's our job to be a part of the community and give back.

"These kids look up to us for some reason. I kick a ball for a living and I am lucky, so any chance you get to put a smile on a kid's face, I think you have to take advantage."
 
 

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