Posted by: deerharas | October 18, 2006

10.18.06

So there was an article about my brother in my hometown paper a couple days ago that has been picked up by the Associated Press.  I’m probably breaking all sorts of copyright law, but I wanted to repost it here.

See Daniel Run

Leg braces, crutches don’t deter seventh-grader

Franklin Middle School seventh-grader Daniel Reed, using crutches, runs toward the finish line during Franklin’s cross country meet with Clack Middle School at Sherrod Residential Park on Friday. Reed, who has cerebral palsy, is often followed by his coach, Jerry Johnson, and many of his teammates along the one-mile course as a means of support. 

Daniel Running

By Ken Ellsworth / ellsworthk@reporternews.com
October 16, 2006

Daniel Reed is a hero to everyone but himself. He’s a seventh-grade student at Franklin Middle School, a straight-A student and a cross country runner – never mind that he runs with crutches and leg braces because he’s afflicted with cerebral palsy.He comes in last at every race, but every race is a victory.

”He’s run every race and finished every one,” said his coach, Jerry Johnson, after Saturday’s race with Clack Middle School. ”There’s no quit in him.”

Johnson can’t talk about Daniel without crying. Almost nobody can.

The tears are not for sympathy for Daniel, but for Daniel’s courage and determination. He doesn’t mind losing. He only wants to do his best, and he does just that. The temptation for others is to be too protective of Daniel, and everybody knows Daniel would hate that. He wants to be treated like everybody else and excel on his own.

Of course Daniel is remarkable, and so he is not treated like everybody else.

On Friday, Daniel crossed the finish line with his coach, his dad Jerry Daniel Reed, an Abilene Reporter-News staff writer, and several of his teammates following behind him. After his teammates finish their races, they go back out onto the course and get behind Daniel. They cheer him on as they trot and walk behind him. That way he doesn’t really finish last.

”Go Daniel!” they yell.

”It inspires me. They are a motivator,” Daniel said of his teammates, shortly after the mile run and shortly after he had caught his breath.

Obviously, it’s a shared relationship. He inspires his teammates.

On Saturday, on the hilly, sometimes rocky terrain on the grounds of the Sherrod Apartments near Abilene Christian University, Daniel finished the mile cross country run in 29 minutes. That was 23 minutes behind the winner, who ran the race in six minutes, and 18 minutes behind the last finisher before Daniel. It didn’t matter. Daniel was a winner, too.

”He did good, finished well and didn’t stop once,” Johnson said.

Daniel begged to differ.

”I stopped once to scratch my arm,” he said. Of course, to do that he had to put aside one crutch.

No Franklin teammates or their parents left the scene of the meet until Daniel finished, unless they were urgently needed elsewhere.

”Go Daniel!” echoed across the hilly terrain from the beginning to the end of the meet.

When Daniel crossed the finish line, his shoulders were rolling hard as he worked to control his borrowed crutches, because his own had broken under the tremendous strain he puts on them. His face was grim, but joyful.

”I’m tired, but it is good to have finished,” Daniel said. ”It feels really great.”

At the start, Daniel was 300 yards behind the wispy, fleet-footed, energetic pack of seventh-grade boys before he reached 100 yards. He kept running hard and was undiscouraged – probably using twice the energy to move three or four times more slowly than the fleet ones.

As he neared the finish line, the cheers increased.

”Go Daniel! Go Daniel! Go Daniel!” Some wiped away the tears.

”Every meet we’ve gone to, the tears roll. I’m so proud of Daniel. We’re so proud of him,” Johnson said.

Daniel is the son every parent would love to have. Jerry and Lynn Reed (Lynn is an Austin Elementary School teacher) are justly proud of Daniel, but don’t lay it on too thickly.

”Daniel doesn’t like too much attention,” Lynn said.

They trace Daniel’s wish to run back to Joy Beckett, Daniel’s physical education teacher at Bonham Elementary and to Daniel’s uncle and aunt, Jay and Kay Hufstedler. Jay is the girls track coach at Amarillo High School. Kay won the state high school championship in the mile for Ozona in 1981.

”My thoughts were that he (Daniel) would do everything the other students did, whether it was basketball or hula hoops to the best of his ability,” Beckett said. ”He did and didn’t ever complain, even though he had to do some things differently. For instance, he did hula hoops around his neck. He was a great person to work with.”

Jay Hufstedler invited Daniel to work out with the girls track team during a couple of summers when Daniel stayed with them.

”He just seemed to enjoy it,” Hufstedler said. ”He never complained that it wasn’t fair.”

Lynn Reed said she remembers one meet in particular.

”What touches me most is the support of those other kids,” she said. ”One time Daniel was about to quit. Then they started screaming for him. They were cheering him on, and he heard the roar of the crowd and just kept going.”

Daniel has a sense of humor, too.

After one meet, he wryly asked, ”Do you have ribbons for 26th place?”

Daniel is active in his church and Boy Scouts, camping, hiking and doing all he can. In the fifth grade, he scored perfectly on the TAKS test. Last year he missed only two questions.

After Friday’s meet, Daniel sat resting on a cooler. To say the least, he was modest.

”I owe it to God,” he said. ”I owe it to my family and to my friends who support me.”

This story was edited by night city editor Patti Steele and copy edited by Jeff Wolf. The headline was written by Ken Ellsworth.

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