Photo by Joe Chitwood
Myers crosses the finish line
Announcer Bill McGahan stopped the action on the track Saturday, just before the boys 1600-meter run, and called on Sutherland High School junior Gavin Myers to wheel his way to the front of the grandstand.Myers, born with Myelomeningocele spina bifida, is paralyzed from the waist down and wheel chair bound. But nevertheless, he has participated in the 1600-meter run since junior high, and never failed to complete a race.
McGahan said when Myers competes, it is not so much about winning or losing, but finishing, and it is important to have the right tools to get the job done.
“Using his (old) wheel chair was sometimes not pretty,” McGahan said.
Schools in the Southern Platte Valley Conference pitched in to raise money to help Myers buy a new racing chair.
“They thought they might fall short, but hoped to raise the majority that was needed,” McGahan said. “The goal was $3,000, but thanks to all the schools in the SPVA, surrounding communities and countless individuals, over $8,000 was raised -- enough to buy the chair and the accessories that will equip Gavin and allow him to do his best."
“Gavin wants to thank all those that contributed and made it a success,” he said.
Myers received the new chair a little more than a week ago and used it to practice for his first race of the season.
“My best time is 7 minutes, 59 seconds and that was on a cold windy day,” he said. “I can remember doing that race here when it was raining and I did the whole thing with a flat tire.”
Myers expected the new chair to cut his time.
“It is so much lighter and easier to use, it feels almost weightless to me. I can pick it up with one hand,” he said.
He didn’t have long to wait. He finished his first race with the new equipment in a new personal best time of 7:23, shaving 36 seconds off his previous best time.
When Myers crossed the finish line and high-fived the other runners who were waiting for him there, the timekeepers told him his time and he broke into tears, overcome with emotion.
“I am speechless,” he said. “It’s way better and so much easier to use.”
Myers hopes to continue to improve throughout the season.