Ariton football player kicking with a purpose

Published: Nov. 8, 2023 at 10:25 AM CST
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ARITON, Ala. (WTVY) -- Nicolas Danner has quite the leg.

“He’s a weapon for us. You know, if you’ve watched us play over the last two or three years, our kicking game has been our Achilles heel,” said Ariton head coach Steven Kilcrease.

Last year, coach Kilcrease saw him kick and immediately wanted to give him a jersey, but he found him too late in the season and the Purple Cats would lose in the second round.

While disappointed he couldn’t show off his leg, Nicolas had something more concerning going on in his life.

“On January of 2021, I had gone to the emergency room because I had some like COVID type symptoms,” said Ariton senior football player Nicolas Danner. “We got a call about three hours later saying ‘he needs to come to the emergency room. Something’s not right.’”

The doctors at Dale Medical sent the Danner’s to Children’s Hospital in Birmingham.

It was then Danner realized; his life was in danger.

“They actually found I only had one kidney instead of two and that one kidney I had was failing and had about 30% left,” Danner said.

What could have turned into a potentially fatal case if untreated, after two years, Nicolas finally found a donor.

“We talked throughout the year a little bit and found out he was going to have surgery and at that point, I’m like, okay Nic, there’s no way Nic can play, especially with it being June,” Kilcrease said.

His kidney transplant was a success, but his plans of playing football were unknown.

“We got back to school, and my daughter mentioned that at home said, ‘Hey, I’m hearing Nic’s wanting to play football.’ And I’m like there’s no way he’s going to be able to play. Low and behold he came to see me that day, fourth block and said, doctor said he could do it and I said there’s no way,” said Kilcrease.

A little over a month later, he was on the gridiron practicing.

“He’s an inspiration to all of us,” Kilcrease continued. “I tell our guys all the time that you know, don’t take it for granted that that you can get out here and play a sport.”

A childhood dream coming to fruition through hard work and determination.

“I just kicked every day just repetitively every day and I just got better at it the more I kicked so I mean set my mind to it and I can get it,” Danner finished.

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