Tiffany McGlorthon channeled her grief of losing her daughter, Tequilla, into creating the first special needs flag football league in the area.
BY KARIN DAVIS-THOMPSON, Staff Writer
ST. PETERSBURG — Tiffany McGlorthon said she needed a way to channel her grief. McGlorthon and her daughter Tequilla were involved in a school bus accident that paralyzed her daughter. Then, just one month before her ninth birthday, she passed away.
“Her body just couldn’t take it anymore,” she said. “Her organs began to shut down.”
After Tequilla’s death, McGlorthon struggled with what to do or how to make sense of things after losing her only daughter.
“After she passed, I asked the Lord what He wanted me to do with my life,” she stated.
The answer has taken her on a journey – finding ways to support families with children with special needs, including an upcoming NFL Flag Football League for children with special needs.
The seed was actually planted before Tequlla’s passing; it happened when she had to spend a few weeks at a local resort while the home she was staying in was being tented.
“We had to move closer to the hospital,” she said. “The resort they sent us to had no accommodations for Tequilla. No place for her equipment, no activities for her, nothing.”
“God told me to build a resort,” the mother of two said. “He gave it to me in a dream.”
She decided to call her organization Tequilla’s Twin Tower Mini Camp.
As she began to put her plans in motion, she became more and more involved in understanding just how many aspects of life don’t consider the needs of the special needs community, including sports.
She learned through her networking tree that the NFL was possibly looking to partner with organizations like hers that worked with the special needs community. So, she got in touch with them, but she was surprised by what she learned.
“They told me they didn’t have any leagues for special needs families — anywhere,” she said. “Our league would be the very first.”
So McGlorthon got to work, finding a way to become the first NFL Flag Football League for special needs children.
After securing a field with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, she began soliciting volunteers, including teenagers, to work with the students and help them on the field.
So far, the new league has signed up 28 children, with room for a total of 100. Participants must be between the ages 5-13. Each season lasts 10 weeks, with a new season starting every three months. The league will begin in October, but sign-ups are happening now.
She said she is excited about the chance to order the NFL affiliate jersey for the kids.
“I feel like I’m on cloud nine,” McGlorthon said. “I love seeing the expression on the children’s faces. I never imagined it would be this big.”
Along with the special needs football league, McGlorthon said she is still working hard to ensure that special needs families get the support they need and that activities like this give the caregivers a few hours of rest while someone else they can trust works with their child or loved one.
“It’s that word respite; families need respite,” she said.
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