Monday, October 22, 2012

Student Finds Inspiration In Runner With Cerebral Palsy

October 22, 2012
By Arian Smedley
For Colt Yinger, a 13-year-old at Nelsonville-York Middle School, sports are second nature. He’s in his first year of cross country, plays football and performs in wrestling competitions around the country. He’s the type of kid who goes running with his dad even after a grueling football practice.
When he met Lucas Norman, a fellow 13-year-old cross country runner who suffers from a mild form of cerebral palsy, Yinger saw another example of dedication and hard work.
Cerebral palsy refers to a number of neurological disorders that affect body movement and muscle coordination, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes.
“Seeing he has more trouble than everybody else race and with him having his problems really upset me,” Yinger said. “As I was watching him race every race to the best of his ability, giving it all he has, that inspired me. It inspired me to do what I did.”
Their last meet, the Tri-Valley Conference, was held on Oct. 13 at Wellston Middle School — Norman’s home school. When Yinger completed his race — placing sixth overall — he ran back to Norman and ran alongside him for the remainder of the course, encouraging him and cheering him on. That kind of gesture is appreciated even within one’s own team or in practice, but with an opponent and in competition, it stands out even more so.
This wasn’t the first time Yinger offered the support. When Norman tripped and lost his shoe in an earlier meet, Yinger picked up his glasses and helped him up, urging him to continue.
“I thought that was pretty nice of him,” Norman said Friday. “My mom said most people wouldn’t do that anymore.”
But that wasn’t enough for Yinger. After receiving his medal at the conference, he decided to give it to Norman to keep.
“This young man represented his school, Nelsonville-York, in such a positive way,” wrote Shelley Norman, Lucas’s mom, on the website
“I didn’t know what to think about it; he was really nice for doing it,” Norman said.
“For someone as a seventh grader to be that altruistic and think about other people makes me the most proud of him,” said Assistant Coach Noah Watkins, who was the acting head coach on the day of the last meet.
“(Colt) has been blessed with a lot of athleticism,” Watkins continued. “For him to see someone who wasn’t given everything that he was given athletically, he sees that as inspiration to see someone fight through a disability and overcome the odds. Plus, he’s found a friend out of it.”
Of the support he gets from Yinger and others, Norman said it can go both ways.
“It can get loud, and sometimes that makes me nervous, but sometimes when they’re cheering you on, you’ll just go faster,” he said.
When told Yinger is inspired by him, Norman said, “I think it’s really cool that he thinks of me like that.”
“I didn’t expect any attention to come to this,” Yinger said. “This is just something I just knew that I had to do, and I felt it was right to do.”
Shelley Norman wrote that she has found hope for the next generation.
“He is a true role model, and I will be forever grateful for the confidence he instilled in my son with one random act of kindness. … I am so proud of them both,” she continued.
Norman, whose participation this year was the first time he’d ever joined a sport, said he plans to run again next year. He’s also planning to wrestle and run track.
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