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9-year-old best friends from Texas turn on the waterworks in Super Bowl commercial

Video games get a lot of flack from parents, and maybe for good reason.

Leave it to a Super Bowl commercial to put the struggle between a living room full of kids and parental control of the TV in a new light.

Microsoft’s ad titled, “We All Win” features two Austin-area 9-year-old best friends, and their message is all about how the video games they play foster inclusion, according to the Austin American Statesman.

See, Owen Sirmons has Escobar syndrome, a “rare genetic disorder characterized by minor facial anomalies, short stature, vertebral defects, multiple joints in a fixed position (contractures) and webbing (pterygia) of the neck, inside bend of the elbows, back of the knees, armpits and fingers,” according to the National Organization for Rare Disorders.

“No matter how your body is or how fast you are, you can play,” he says in the commercial. “It’s a really good thing to have in this world.”

Owen is featured in the ad alongside his best friend Gunnar Franchione, and their buddies David Salas and Evan Mays, their school district announced in a statement on Facebook. The crew attends Blanco Vista Elementary in San Marcos, just south of Austin.

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Microsoft Video screengrab

“These students make us proud, and not just because they are in the commercial,” the statement says. “They are outstanding young students who have a lot to teach us all about friendship, inclusion, and hope.”

Owen is seen in the commercial playing video games using Microsoft’s XBox adaptive game controller, while his friends look on and cheer.

“One of the biggest fears early on is, ‘How will Owen be viewed by the other kids?’” his dad, Richard Sirmons, says in the commercial. “He’s not different when he plays.”

His Mom, Erica Sirmons, told the Statesman that the commercial was filmed in their home in the town of Kyle on Jan. 10-12, but the family didn’t know what they were filmed would be a Super Bowl commercial until about a week before the game.

“We are a normal family; we live in a small town,” Erica Sirmons told the newspaper. “I don’t know how many people can say that they’ve been in a Super Bowl commercial. To say they’re in a Super Bowl commercial about them? That’s crazy.”

But the Super Bowl commercial isn’t Owen and Gunnar’s first brush with fame. The two buddies were also in Microsoft’s holiday ad titled, “Reindeer games,” where Owen was also playing on the adaptive controller, according to KXAN.

The “We All Win” extended commercial, which ran during the Super Bowl, features several other kids with physical limitations, as well as Owen, who talk about how regular video game controllers don’t allow them as full an experience as their friends.

Matt is an award-winning real time reporter and a University of Texas at Austin graduate who’s been based at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram since 2011. His regional focus is Texas, and that makes sense. He’s only lived there his whole life.
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