East Prairie's Zeke Estes achieves football dream - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

East Prairie's Zeke Estes achieves football dream


East Prairie eighth grader Zeke Estes has never let anything get in the way of his dreams.

"It's just normal for me to push myself," Zeke said.

"It's amazing somebody would never give up, despite difficulties, on their dream," said eighth grade football captain Preston Gifford.

Zeke was born 10 weeks premature on Aug. 9, 1999. He spent his first four months at St. Louis Children's Hospital. Cerebral palsy confided Zeke to a walker until fourth grade.  

But that never changed his outlook.

"He doesn't think he's different and that's why I think he does so well in life in general," said Zeke's mom Leigh Amber Coffer.

"I feel like I can do everything other people do," Zeke said.

And everything included sports, which Zeke quickly developed a love for.

"Football is his number one passion, baseball is his second," Coffer said.
So when East Prairie Junior High Football Head Coach James Hodges met Zeke on the first day of seventh grade, he thought managerial duties would be a great fit.

"He's one of those kids that's not afraid to get on your butt on the sideline," Hodges said. "He's kind of like a coach on the sideline."

But this coach's true passion was playing.  

"Zeke is just so compassionate, you can tell he tries his hardest in everything he does, and it hurts me a lot that he can't do everything he wants to do," said Austin Hodges, the team's videographer. 

Austin came up with the idea of putting Zeke in the seventh grade game the next week at Portageville.  

Both schools embraced the idea. Zeke learned the news at halftime.

"I said guys, don't be surprised if I put number 53 in, and his eyes got real big," Hodges said.

So in the second to last game of the season, with his family in the stands, Zeke Estes made his way to the endzone.

"When Zeke was as going down that left sideline, I'll be honest I got a little choked up, I was fighting it back, just cause I know how much he wants it, I know how much it meant to him," Hodges said.

"To see him do it, words can't describe it," Coffer added through tears. "Cause I knew what it meant to him. And to me. It's just really awesome they did it for him."

Zeke carried the ball 73 yards for his first touchdown.

"I was just feeling like nothing could stop me," he said.

Last Thursday, the surprises kept coming, as Zeke was presented the game ball before the final game and appointed an honorary captain, getting to call the coin toss.

"He's faced a lot of challenges in his life and he's faced them head on," Coffer said. "You can't tell him he can't do anything, because he will prove you wrong."

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