Multiple Sclerosis is a debilitating disease which can disrupt and even block the nerve signals that flow between the brain and lower body and can cause complete numbness, problems with vision, balance, muscle control, and other basic body functions. The effects of the disease are different for everyone and can range from mild symptoms that do not require treatment to severe.
Kayla Montgomery is an 18-year old North Carolina athlete with Mount Tabor High School who is plagued by this disease. Despite her diagnosis, Kayla is one of the best teenage runners in the United States. Each time Kayla races, her legs go numb, however, she is able to keep running. Once she stops, she will collapse, but her Coach waits at the finish line to catch her with open arms. “When I finish, it feels like there’s nothing underneath me. I start out feeling normal and then my legs gradually go numb. I’ve trained myself to think about other things while I race, to get through. But when I break the motion, I can’t control them and I fall,” says Montgomery. The symptoms subside slowly as she rests and allows her body temperature to return to normal.
Kayla’s persistence and hard work has paid off. Earlier this year, won the state title in the 3,200-meter race. “Her time of 10 minutes 43 seconds ranks her 21st in the country,” the New York Times wrote in March. The progression of Kayla’s disease is unknown at this time, and life in a wheelchair is a possibility, but she plans on making the most of her time as an able-bodied competitor. She is currently a student at Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN where is runs for the Women’s Cross Country team. She has made a promise to herself to run for as long as her body allows. In an interview with ESPN, Montgomery said, “It’s difficult to live with a disease where your own body’s fighting against yourself; so when I’m running I feel like I’m battling that, I feel like I’m safe from myself. As long as I’m running, everything’s fine.”]]>
As we approach the day of giving “thanks,” I can personally say how thankful I am for my dogs. Our four-legged friends are not only companions, but they are part of our families. When you are having a bad day, they are there for you. They don’t judge you. Their loyalty is everlasting.
Loyalty is the perfect word to describe a scraggly stray named Arthur. Arthur, named by the Swedish extreme sports racing team that discovered him, stuck with them through their 430-mile race through the rainforest of Ecuador. When the team stopped for a meal, they spotted the weathered looking dog and gave him a meatball. Team Peak Performance member, Mikael Lindnord quickly became Arthur’s best friend. The extreme sport of adventure racing is a mix of biking, hiking, and kayaking that will challenge even the fittest of human beings. As the team finished their meal, Arthur followed them and never left their side. He stayed with the team through the 20-mile trek through the jungle, taking to the muddy slopes during the hike, and swam alongside the kayak through murky waters.
From the Daily Mail:
“…organizers warned the team that taking Arthur along posed a risk to his and their safety. They tried to set off without him, but as they left he jumped into the water beside them and started desperately paddling. Lindord, heartbroken by the site of Arthur struggling in the water, picked him up, put him in the kayak and let him stay for the rest of the journey.”
After the grueling 6-day race, Arthur wasn’t in the best shape and required veterinary attention. He was given medical care, cleaned up, and ready for a permanent home. Lindord’s heart was taken by this dog, who showed him and his team everlasting loyalty; Arthur earned himself a forever home with Lindord, who promptly adopted him after returning from the race.
The Digital Sports Team would love to hear your stories about YOUR amazing furry friends! Post them in the comments section below!
The Digital Sports Team loves our dogs!!
Casey (left), Chloe, and Chloe (right)
“I can hear their voices in my head. When I face a difficult situation I can hear my dad guiding me. That’s really all I strived to do my whole life … to honor him with my life,” said Austin Hatch, of how he copes with the tragedy. In 2003, Austin was involved in a plane crash that killed his Mother, Brother, and Sister. His Father, Dr. Stephen Hatch was the pilot. Tragedy struck again in 2011 when another flight piloted by his father crashed and killed Dr. Hatch and his second wife. Austin and his dog survived. Just nine days before the crash happened, Austin committed to the University of Michigan. The second crash left Hatch more emotionally and physically damaged than the first. He spent two months in a coma with a traumatic brain injury, fractured ribs and a punctured lung. Losing his family within an eight year time span was a weight so heavy on his heart. “The emotional pain is never going to subside,” Hatch said at the time. “Over time, the way I cope with my loss is going to change.” He had to learn how to eat, breathe and walk again; things that most of us don’t even have to think about.
Hatch feared that due to his injuries, he wouldn’t be able to play basketball again. His first day back on the basketball court was in January, and he scored a three-pointer in his first game for Loyola High in California, causing his coach and teammates to flood the court – and earning them a technical foul. On November 10th, he played his first game for the University of Michigan in a 43-point blowout against Wayne State. This game was the culmination of everything he had worked so hard to achieve. Hatch has dreamed about playing at the Crisler Center for a long, long time. With 1:41 remaining in the second half, Hatch was sent to the line. With just 12 seconds left, he sunk his free throw, scoring the first point of his college career. The crowd exploded in burst of cheer and his teammates congratulated him. This meant so much more to Hatch than just a point. Having him on the court “was a special moment” for his head coach as well, said Michigan’s John Beilein. “Austin even led us in the fight song after the game was over,” he said. “It was a great moment for our team; however, it was truly special for Austin and his grandfather, Jim, who was here in the stands.”]]>
This is the official synopsis for McFarland USA:
Inspired by a 1987 true story, “McFarland, USA” follows novice runners from McFarland, an economically challenged town in California’s farm-rich Central Valley, as they give their all to build a cross-country team under the direction of Coach Jim White (Kevin Costner), a newcomer to their predominantly Latino high school. Coach White and the McFarland students have a lot to learn about each other but when White starts to realize the boys’ exceptional running ability, things begin to change. Soon something beyond their physical gifts becomes apparent—the power of family relationships, their unwavering commitment to one another and their incredible work ethic. With grit and determination, the unlikely band of runners eventually overcomes the odds to forge not only a championship cross-country team but an enduring legacy as well. Along the way, Coach White realizes that his family finally found a place to call home and both he and his team achieve their own kind of American dream.
Field of Dreams (1989), Rocky(1976), The Sandlot (1993), Cool Runnings (1993), and The Rookie (2002) are just a small sampling of all the fantastic inspirational sports movies that are beloved by many. The list could go on and on. What is YOUR favorite sports movie and why? Will McFarland, USA get you to the movie theater this February? Leave your comments below. We would love to hear from you!!!
Aerialist, High school tumbling state champion, competitor in the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), a performer in Britney Spears’ world tour, and motivational speaker. These are notable, even impossible accomplishments for any human being to achieve in a lifetime, but these accomplishments belong to Jennifer Bricker: the gymnast that was born without legs. Romanian born, Bricker’s biological parents gave her up for adoption at birth, due to the inability to pay for inevitable medical bills that come from having a child with special needs. She was adopted by an American family with three sons. Sharon and Gerald Bricker, Jennifer’s adoptive parents, never put any restrictions on her with what she could do. She was an ambitious child and loved sports. A natural athlete, she taught herself to swim and roller skate on her hands. At the age of 7, Bricker started playing softball. By age 11, she took up volleyball and tumbling. Jennifer’s athleticism and love for new challenges eventually led her into the acrobat and aerialist she is known as today.
Power tumbling is a form of artistic gymnastics, but uses different equipment. In power tumbling, men, women, boys and girls alike all perform tumbling skills on the floor, a traditional trampoline and a double mini trampoline. After four years of competing in power tumbling, Jennifer made it to the Junior Olympics where she placed 4th in the sport. She became the only physically challenged person to compete professionally in power tumbling. In 1998, she received the U.S. Tumbling Association’s Inspiration Award. After Jennifer graduated from high school, she moved to Orlando, Florida to work at Disney World. It is there that she was introduced to professionals who coached her in acrobatics and aerial arts. Her skills became so finely tunes that she caught the attention of Britney Spears, who asked her to perform on her world tour, Circus. Jennifer became involved with a man named Nate Crawford, a seasoned acrobat, while in Orlando. The pair moved to LA to further her blossoming Hollywood career. She met Los Angeles Trainer, Eric Fleishman, who helped refine Jennifer’s diet and fitness routine. “Eric showed me that you can truly train your body to do anything you want it to”, Bricker says. “I changed my whole lifestyle-eating, sleeping, exercising.”
Those familiar with gymnastics and even those that are not know the name Dominique Moceanu – United States Gold Medalist in women’s gymnastics. Bricker grew up idolizing the champion gymnast. Although Bricker knew she was adopted, she never knew who her biological parents were. In 2004, when Jennifer was 16 years old, The Bricker’s gave their daughter the shock of her life. Sharon and Gerald Bricker revealed to her that the Olympic gymnast she had idolized was actually her biological sister! “I was always going on and on about Dominique, how much we looked alike; how she’s small and of Romanian heritage just like me,” Bricker said. Jennifer was finally ready to reach out to Moceanu in December of 2007. She wrote her a letter and included photos and her adoptive papers, which were included in Moceanu’s memoir “Off Balance,” published on June 12th, 2012. This is a small part of what Jennifer wrote to her sister:
“Ever since I was about six years old, I’ve been obsessed with gymnastics and I always watched you on TV. You had been my idol my whole life, and you turned out to be my sister! I was in extreme disbelief, and my immediate thought was that I wanted to meet you and let you know. I feel that I have one chance to show you and prove to you that I’m not some crazy person, but I’m sure after seeing all of the papers, you’ll see that I’m serious.”
Moceanu called Jennifer a few weeks after receiving her letter. They talked about her biological family, adoptive family and the things they have in common. Bricker’s biological father, Dumitru Moceanu, passed away in 2008. She also connected with her biological mother, Camelia Staicu. Jennifer has no negative feelings toward her adoption and says, “They thought giving me up for adoption would be the best option, and they were right. I was in a place where I could grow and be nurtured and be with amazing people who loved me. I hit the jackpot on the family end.”
Jennifer Bricker currently lives in Los Angeles and has a successful career as a motivational speaker. She continues her love of aerial arts, performing and motivating other to follow their dreams. Jennifer is an advocate and keynote speaker for the Adoption Network, the organization that was instrumental in reconnecting her to her biological family. She also works with kids without limbs at a special sports camp. Jennifer sets an example. She displays what is means to possess courage and strength, both mentally and physically. Her fascinating story will continue to inspire and ignite the human spirit. “I believe God wants to use me as an example to move people in a profound way.”
This is beautiful performance by Jennifer Bricker, courtesy of #besomebody.
The Special Olympics athletes trained for almost two months at their respected schools to prepare for the competition, which challenged them in dribbling, passing and shooting. Out of the Gold, silver, and bronze, student Montik Johnson from Newark High School was awarded the silver medal. “I feel good!,” Johnson stated of his achievement. “Montik was the man,” football player Diondre Hamm said. “He was the most enthusiastic of them all. This was a great opportunity for him. It was a great opportunity for me.” Viking soccer player, Michael Lewis is volunteering at the even for the second year in a row and loves helping his fellow students. “It’s a great feeling helping these kids,” he said. “They are so happy. It makes you feel good being able to make sure they feel great about themselves today.” Athletic Director, Elizabeth Moodie commented on the event as well stating, “Team sports bring people together, and today’s event did just that … and a lot more. It was nice for our student-athletes to see that Special Olympics athletes, just like them, are motivated and love to play their sports.”]]>
For the girls, Grant High School’s #22 Ella Donaghu (OR) glanced at her time as she took the win over #1 Allie Ostrander (AK), #8 Makena Morley (MT), and #12 Annie Hill(MT).
Taking first place for the boys, Tanner Anderson from North Central, WA, followed by Levi Thomet from Kodiak, AK, and Idaho native, Elijah Armstrong, finished strong in third with a time of 16:28.30, just 7 minutes and 10 seconds behind Thomet.
See some of the action here:
Each of Spellman’s 1,400 plus students were challenged to raise $100 as a goal alongside the Principals own goal of helping to fund 50 student activity clubs and 25 sports teams. “It’s about inspiring our students that you can do things people say are impossible,” O’Keefe said. The Principal started his 100 mile run at 6a.m. Friday, November 7th, 2014. Fellow Teachers rallied in support of O’Keefe as well, getting up extra early to bring water, a change of clothes, and cheering him on as he ran throughout the night. “You get to a point in ultra-marathoning when you’re ready for it, no matter what,” O’Keefe said. “I’ve done it enough times to know what I’m capable of.” Just before finishing the run at almost 6a.m. on Saturday, an anonymous donor gave $100,000 to the school. A true inspiration, Principal O’Keefe proved to his students that the impossible really can be possible.
The video below provided by Cardinal Spellman High School:]]>
This is the contest’s requirements:
• Identify a school that has an athletic program that deserves the $1,000 donation.
• Nominate the school by posting a comment on the Univest Facebook page or tweeting a vote to @UnivestCorp
• The school with the most posts at the end of the contest will win the following:
$1,000 for the school’s Athletic Department
A special giveaway for the fantastic fans at a home athletic game or pep rally in October
A school spirit banner to display at the school
Last year, Harry S. Truman in Bucks County, Pennsylvania was the lucky recipient of the $1,000 prize, and they did it again this year! Truman used its entire student body to show their spirit and appreciation for Univest by spelling out the Company’s name in their bleachers. Kim Detwiler, Senior Vice President and Director of Corporate Communications represented the company at the presentation: “This is the most exciting and surprising welcome that we receive when we present a check for $1,000,” Detwiler said. “It really is phenomenal. We couldn’t script it better. They honored us in an incredible way.” The school’s student body was also presented with “Number One” foam fingers to celebrate their victory, which the students waved around proudly while cheering on their team.
“Once again, you guys were given a mission, a very important mission, a very tough mission, and you rose to the occasion like the Truman Tigers you are,” says Truman Athletic Director, Mike Stock. The students felt a sense of unity that day, all beaming with pride for the success of the school’s joint effort. “All of our students are really involved – everybody goes all out,” says, Senior Madison Piasecki.
Detweiler commented, “This is one of the ways Univest gives back to our community and really support education. There’s such a great need for public education to be funded and to be supported by businesses in the local community, and this is one of the ways we do that.” The contest is one way that students can connect with each other and show their school pride. One Truman Student explains, “It’s awesome that Univest offers this. It helps everything at Truman. The whole school is thankful to Univest.”
Here is the video provided by Surburban One Sports:
After his sophomore year at Melvindale, Whittis knew he had to make a change for the better. He switched schools and ended up at River Rouge, where he met Coach Parker. Corey Parker is the head football coach at River Rouge High School, located in a gritty, industrial town on the outskirts of Detroit. Whittis became involved in football as an after-school activity to keep himself busy. Coach Parker would drop Whittis off at different locations after practice and soon realized that the boy didn’t have a regular place to sleep. After the nod of approval from his Wife, Coach Parker opened his home to Whittis, not as a tenant, but as a son. Parker welcomed Angelo into his home and immediately stepped into the father role, helping to bring his grades up and train for football. Over the summer months, Angelo built himself up, gaining 30 pounds of muscle and becoming a fierce quarterback, a true asset to the team. Whittis helped lead River Rouge to its first District Title. Not only is he the star quarterback, but he works with other teammates to help boost their grades – he is even on the honor roll!
Although Parker and his wife, Autumn, did not legally adopt Whittis (he was 18 at the time), he became the third member of their family. Soon after, a fourth was on the way with the recent addition of Corey Parker Jr. When Parker and his wife, Autumn, took Whittis in — there wasn’t a legal adoption because he is 18 — they became a three-person home. Today, with the recent addition of Corey Parker Jr., they are a family of four. A boy who went from a broken family and unstable homes now feels the love from the Parkers that he has missed out on for so long — He even considers himself a big brother to baby Parker. “It meant a lot to me, I finally felt like I was somebody. For him to take me in not knowing me from anybody… it was a blessing,” said Whittis. He has transformed from a troubled youth involved in a life of crime to an awe inspiring image of hope. “Anybody who can go through what this kid has gone through in one lifetime, and still find a way to get up again and again after being repeatedly knocked down… well, I think they are amazing,” said Coach Parker.
Whittis will be college bound soon, but is unsure which school he will attend. Although it will be hard on the Parker’s to see him leave, it will be a great experience for him. “He’s such a big baby that I expect him to be calling me every day to complain about stuff in the dorms and stuff he can’t afford to do,” Parker says. For once in his life he is just excited for his future, thanks to hard work and a second chance given to him by Coach Parker.
Below is a highlight video of Angelo Whittis provided by River Rouge High School: