The National Down Syndrome Congress’ Inaugural Big Game Ball, presented by Peach Bowl Inc., will take place at the College Football Hall of Fame on September 1, 2022, and will serve as the first event of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic weekend. Mr. College Football, Tony Barnhart, and his wife Maria Barnhart proudly serve as the event co-chairs.

Tony Barnhart is regarded as one of the nation’s best-known college football journalists. After forty-two years of covering college football, Barnhart rightfully received the nickname Mr. College Football. Rhonda Rice, Engagement Director at the National Down Syndrome Congress, said, “I cannot think of a better duo to chair the Big Game Ball. Football and Tony Barnhart go hand in hand, and Maria is passionate about raising awareness about postsecondary education opportunities that were not available to her brother, David, who was born with Down syndrome. I am thrilled Tony and Maria Barnhart agreed to lead this event.”

“Maria and I are pleased to serve as Co-Chairmen of the Big Game Ball,” said Tony Barnhart. My wife Maria also has a strong personal interest as this benefits a cause near and dear to our hearts as her younger brother David was born in 1955 with Down syndrome. We are passionate about letting families know about today’s postsecondary options for students with intellectual disabilities.”

The Big Game Ball celebrates the individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to developing and enhancing inclusive postsecondary education for students with intellectual disabilities. The event will honor the postsecondary programs at Clemson University, Georgia Tech, the University of Georgia, and the University of Oregon College of Education Special Education Graduate program. Additionally, the Big Game Ball will honor Think College in the Nonprofit Category, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries in the Corporation Category, Individual of Impact, Stephanie Smith Lee, and Self-Advocate of Distinction, Caden Cox.

The Big Game Ball will increase awareness of inclusive postsecondary opportunities for students with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities. Event proceeds will be used to provide scholarships for students with Down syndrome and support the work of the National Down Syndrome Congress as they continue to ensure quality model standards for postsecondary programs and policy support to educators who continue to forge the path of inclusive education at all levels.

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