Career comes full circle for CR assistant Candeloro
Tuesday, June 19, 2012 09:36:11 PM by
By Andy Walter
Delaware State News
Dan Candeloro hasn’t forgotten the first special-needs person he ever spent much time with.
His name was Kent Munson and he was a manager for the Dickinson High football team in the late 1970s.
Candeloro was the Rams’ big, talented defensive lineman. He said treating Munson poorly wasn’t even an option.
"Back in that day, respect was demanded from our coaching staff," said the now 47-year-old Candeloro. "I think that made things a little bit easier for everybody — especially when the older kids, the seniors and juniors, were accepting of Kent.
"It was just something that you did. It was like hanging out with your best friend. You respected him like he was one of us."
Three decades later, Candeloro’s football life will come full circle.
Now an assistant football coach at Caesar Rodney High, the Dover resident is an assistant on the Gold team coaching staff for the Blue-Gold All-Star Football Game. The 57th annual Blue-Gold game slated for Saturday at 7 p.m. in Delaware Stadium.
Thirty years ago, Candeloro was named the Blue-Gold game’s top lineman after suiting up for the Gold in its 10-6 victory.
It’s more than that, though.
For the last 13 years, Candeloro has taught at the Charlton School, Kent County’s school for special-needs children and young adults. So, for Candeloro, the Blue-Gold theme of teaching respect for special-needs people is more than just a nice idea.
It’s something he sees around him every day he goes to work.
"I won’t say I went out and actively pursued a career in adaptive education," said Candeloro, who was also a standout football player at Delaware State. "But, when it presented itself, it was definitely an opportunity that I wasn’t scared to take.
"I think being around special needs at such a young age, I didn’t shy away from the opportunity and kind of welcomed it," he added. "I understood it more than maybe a youngster coming out of college who hadn’t been around special needs."
Now Candeloro gets to be part of an event that will help even more people understand what special-needs kids are like. Charlton has about 10 students involved in the Blue-Gold Hand-in-Hand program, which matches game participants with special-needs children.
Candeloro said it’s been fun being around the youngsters at various events.
"That’s pretty exciting for me because I’ll get to see those kids on game day," he said.
This will be the first time Candeloro has been involved in the Blue-Gold game since he played in it. He said coaching in the contest was always on his "bucket list" of things he wanted to do as a coach.
Putting together football with the Blue-Gold message seems like a pretty natural fit for Candeloro.
"It think it (the game) lets everyone understand that the disability itself doesn’t form the person," he said. "People actually see that a child with Downs Syndrome can run and jump and communicate and have fun like any other kid."