When Chy Johnson, who has a brain disorder, faced a torrent of bullies, she found an unexpected set of heroes in her high school’s football team.

Johnson, 16, came home from school crying every day after classmates picked on her because of her differences, even throwing trash at her. Fed up, Johnson’s mom reached out to a family friend in hopes of identifying the girl’s tormentors.

Instead, that friend — Carson Jones — took action. As a senior on the Queen Creek, Ariz. school’s varsity football team, Jones rallied the squad to support Johnson, inviting her to eat lunch with them and watching out for her during the school day.

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The team’s efforts have made all the difference. “They save me because I won’t get hurt again,” Johnson told KTVK in Phoenix. “They’re not mean to me, because all my boys love me.”