‘A Smile As Big as the Moon’ Hallmark Movie to Premiere January 29 on ABC

23 Jan

Space Camp is a competitive education program at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. Even though it’s designed for gifted science students, Mike, a special education teacher and football coach at a Michigan high school, decides participating in the science program would do wonders for the self-esteem of his students – especially Ben (Peter ten Brink), a boy with Down syndrome who dreams of becoming an astronaut.

Aided by fellow teacher Robynn McKinney Mike faces incredible obstacles in trying to make his dream become reality. School administrators oppose the plan as being too expensive, and Space Camp officials (led by Dr. Deborah Barnhart, played by Cynthia Watros) are skeptical… They’ve never had special-ed kids apply before.

At long last, Mike and his students are given the green light. And then the real challenges begin, over nine months of rigorous teaching, learning, training and fund-raising. The kids are belittled and, in some cases, bullied by their fellow classmates, but Mike finds a way to keep them on track. He even convinces the school’s football team, his other students, to help them prepare for the intense physical challenges of Space Camp. The class finally leaves for Huntsville, Alabama. Will kids with Down syndrome, Tourette’s, learning disabilities and emotional problems be able to leave their baggage behind, coalesce into a team and compete with some of the brightest students from across the country?

In the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, many of the special-ed students were played by young actors who are, indeed, ‘special,’ with Down syndrome, autism and learning disabilities. The film was shot in Wilmington, NC and at NASA Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama.

THE CAST: John Corbett as Mike Kersjes, Jessy Schram as Robynn McKinney, Cynthia Watros as Dr. Deborah Barnhart, Logan Huffman as Scott Goudy, Keson Loder as Lewis, Breezy Eslin as Stephanie, Peter ten Brink as Ben, Abigale Corrigan as Lisa, David Lambert as Steve, Jimmy Bellinger as Mattie, Tyrin Niles as Jamal, Tanner Dow as Adam, E. Roger Mitchell as Tom Keller, Keith Flippen as Dennis, Moira Kelly as Darcy, Mike Pniewski as Big Dan, Cameron Deane Steward as Josh Morgan, Mcsen Lintz as Ryan Kersjes, Mathew Lintz as Shawn Kerjes and Louise Linton as Julie.

A Smile as Big as the Moon was directed by James Sadwith. The executive producers are Brent Shieldsand Dan Paulson . The script is by Tom Rickman. Mike Kersjes served as technical advisor on the film.


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