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Third-grader Joins in ‘12th Man Program’

Chacen Sicignaro, pictured with his Mars Area Elementary School teacher Savannah Fischer, cheers on the Fightin Scots from the sidelines, while wearing a No. 12 jersey that was presented to him by the football team.Mars Area Elementary School third-grader Chacen Sicignaro was invited to join the Edinboro University Fighting Scots Football Team last weekend as part of the university’s “12th Man Program.”

“When I first met Chacen, we talked about football and how we both liked the Steelers. Each week of school, we would continue to talk about Sunday football and if the Steelers did a good job,” says Savannah Fischer, Mars Area Elementary School special education teacher, who began spearheading the “12th Man Program” when its founder, Ryan Stratton, graduated from the university and moved out of state in 2019.

As part of the program, Chacen joined in the team’s meeting and practice on Friday, Oct. 20, then attended the Fighting Scots game versus the Clarion Golden Eagles on Saturday, Oct. 21.

“The pure joy that he expressed Friday and Saturday while at the game and practice with the team is indescribable,” says Fischer. “He is typically quiet and takes some time to warm up to people, but this wasn’t the case when he met the team. He was so outgoing and cheered on the team the entire game.” 

Chacen was given a No. 12 jersey to wear as he cheered on the Fighting Scots from the sidelines on Saturday. In addition, he and his family will be invited to attend a “12th Man” banquet at which his participation in the program will be celebrated.

The mission of the “12th Man Program” is to “provide a child with special needs or terminal illness the opportunity to be a member of a team and to enrich the human life with hope, strength, and joy” with the goals of creating an environment for peer interaction for children with special needs, building relationships, and inspiring players to be more involved in their local community. An honorary team member is selected prior to each season for each home football game.

For more information, call (724) 625-3161.