Perryville H.S. track team adds first player with disability

Perryville H.S. track team adds first player with disability

PERRYVILLE, MO (KFVS) - One Heartland track team welcomed its first athlete with a disability.

The Perryville High School track team became the first local team to take advantage of a program designed to make sure everyone has a chance to compete.

Sophomore Faith Newell never thought she would able to play a sport, but now she will have the ability to get on her mark, get set and go.

"I never thought I would be able to do this," Newell said.

Even though she was born with leg paralysis and walks with braces, she always wanted to be able to play a sport.

"It doesn't matter to me," she said. "As long as I get to pay on a sports team with my classmates and to be able to be a part of a team is amazing."

Now she will get that opportunity.

Thanks to Disabled Athlete Sports Association and her school leaders, Faith received a paraplegic track wheel chair, gloves, a helmet and even water bottles.

"We said we were going to do whatever we can to make this girls dream come true," Superintendent Scott Ireland said.

Superintendent Ireland said the high school sophomore has showed students in his district a new meaning to the phrase "going the extra mile."

"Trendsetter," he said. "Open up doors, break down barriers for the kids who want to do this type of thing. So we're very happy to have her as the first person in southeast Missouri to do this."

Since she's the first paraplegic track athlete in the area, Faith races alongside other track runners, but competes against her own times.

"It'll be nice to get her into a couple meets where there also some more para-athletes," Coach Tim Steffens said. "That she can compete against where she actually racing someone else in a chair also."

But no matter if that happens, Faith said she's happy to be a part of something with her friend.

"It's great just having all my friends cheer me on in practice," Newell said. "And saying I can do it and believing in me and knowing I can do it, it just gives me more confidence to know I can do it."

Newell said her focus right now is her track meet on Thursday.

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