It’s being called the "Sunday Giveaway.” Panthers players are becoming known for giving away footballs to children in the stands, after they score a touchdown. Cam Newton started the trend, and long before the season started, one Charlotte boy received that special gift.
6-year old Jaxon Shytle is autistic. His dad, Alan Winninger, says he hasn’t yet been able to take his son to a Panthers game. Winninger said, “It’s hard for autistic kids to handle over-stimulation and being at something like that, like a large event.”
This past summer, Jaxon went with his dad to a smaller event, the Panthers training camp in South Carolina. Winninger says it was there that Newton came over and made his son’s day. He said, “They (Jaxon and Newton) started playing a couple catches.”
And then Winninger says Newton, in his signature move, gave Jaxon the football to keep. Winninger said, “That made a big impact to him (Jaxon) to see this towering guy hand him a ball.” Winninger went on to say, “It’s moving. From a father’s standpoint, it’s so touching and heartwarming to see somebody take a moment of their time to do something like that.”
Jaxon and his dad play catch often, but when it’s game time, the ball has a special place. It sits on top of the TV, and Winninger thinks it’s a good luck charm for the team.
Winninger said, “This is something that will affect him forever, and it probably helped his progression being autistic. Now, he’s got something he can relate to and be a part of.”