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Football camp sparks lasting friendship between Park Hill senior, 3rd grader

Park Hill football
Posted at 4:27 PM, Nov 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-21 18:14:23-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — One Park Hill football player is making a difference off the field.

Senior safety Will Bushman has taken third-grader Drace Johnson under his wing.

"I think in Drace's head, he's pretty close to Patrick Mahomes," said Kelli Johnson, Drace's mother.

Over the summer, 9-year-old Drace attended Park Hill's football camp for the first time, which was a nerve-wracking moment for Johnson who was concerned about her son participating.

"When we first did football camp, we had to do all the things like ask the athletic director, make sure they were ready for a child with Down syndrome," Johnson said.

Johnson had nothing to worry about as Bushman and Drace immediately became friends.

"I noticed Drace having a lot of fun playing football, and I wanted to join him — we've been friends since then," Bushman said.

While their friendship formulated at football camp, it's continued ever since.

"It was just really fun to watch a senior in high school be a good friend to a third-grader, and he doesn't care about anything, he's just being a good friend," Johnson said.

Park Hill's football season has ended, but the friendship between Bushman and Drace is just beginning.

"Being a parent of a child with Down syndrome, inclusion is really important to me, and not everybody gets it," Johnson said. "Will is a kid that just understands how to include and be a good friend and not care about differences, and he really is a role model for others around him."