A young man with a disability, but a fighting spirit and the group that nurtures that spirit are this week’s heroes.
With a crowd of volunteers chanting his name and his mother emotionally watching every step, 16-year old Jerry Carroll completes his first one-mile hike, a major accomplishment for a young man with cerebral palsy. Carroll doesn’t let that slow him down.
Asked why he was confident he would make the ride, he says “because I think I was gonna be a winner, not a loser, a winner.”
Carroll and nine other teenagers who suffer physical and mental disabilities are playing extreme recess, a day of hiking and biking organized by a group called Dreams for Kids.
“He's amazing I tell you, very exceptional that's for sure,” Jerry’s mother Bonnie said.
They’re taking part in the Adventure Teen Challenge sponsored by World T.E.A.M. Sports..
“Think about your greatest sports memory growing up, think about whether it was setting a record on the pool or on the track … those memories stay with you,” Andrew Horn of Dreams for Kids said.
The organization sends children and teens like Jerry canoeing, even waterskiing. East coast director Horn says the participants gain empowerment and confidence through competition and communicating with other kids and volunteers.
“It’s an opportunity for Dillon to spend time with teenaged guys working on his social skills, learning how to stand, learning how to talk,” mother Shannon McGrail said.
Over the summer, participants also played sports such as baseball, basketball and hockey with professional athletes and coaches from the Washington Capitals, Wizards and Nationals.
The message that teens like Dillon and Jerry send about people with disabilities makes them just as much heroes as the volunteers at Dreams for Kids.
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