Sometimes, teachers can make all the difference.
Matt Woodrum, 11, has cerebral palsy but doesn’t want to let that stop him from being as normal as possible.
So Woodrum decided to participate in his school’s 400-meter-race, despite being told he didn’t have to.
Matt not only wanted to compete in the race but keep up with his classmates.
In the race, his classmates pulled ahead early on and Matt was noticeably struggling down the home stretch with the possibility looming that he wouldn’t even finish.
So Matt’s gym teacher John Blaine walked over and jogged with him, encouraging Matt, telling him he could definitely finish the race.
Blaine’s actions spurred on the other students to run over and cheer Matt on to the finish line. The result is so moving that even though the video is several years old, people keep sharing and watching.
“I knew I would finish it,” said the soft-spoken Matt, The Associated Press reported. “But there were a couple of parts of the race where I really felt like giving up.”
“It was really encouraging,” Matt added to ABC 6. “It helped me get through the rest of the race.”
“He pushes through everything. He pushes through the pain, and he pushes through however long it may take to complete a task,” his mother, Anne Curran, also told AP. “He wants to go big or go home.”
“When the kids came to join him, that was the real moment of inspiration that obviously made me and everybody cry,” she added to the Columbus Dispatch. “Seeing him through to the end and cheering his name was just a priceless moment.”
For Blaine, it was a normal occurrence.
“The kids will tell you that Matt never gives up on anything that he sets out to do,” said Blaine. “They knew he would cross that finish line, and they wanted to be a part of that.”
Several years later, Blaine and Woodrum got a sportsmanship award, the Stan Musial Award, which honors and celebrates the “greatest moments of sportsmanship in North America,” ABC6 reported.
“The reason kids have difficulties showing sportsmanship in competitive situations is because they haven’t been taught what to do when those feelings come out,” Blaine said. “If you wait ’til a real game setting, like middle school or high school, it’s too late.”
“He taught us all a very important lesson. He taught us that not all victories cross the finish line first,” Blaine added of the viral video.
According to the CDC, cerebral palsy, known as CP, “is a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture.”
It says: “CP is the most common motor disability in childhood. Cerebral means having to do with the brain. Palsy means weakness or problems with using the muscles. CP is caused by abnormal brain development or damage to the developing brain that affects a person’s ability to control his or her muscles.”
“The symptoms of CP vary from person to person. A person with severe CP might need to use special equipment to be able to walk, or might not be able to walk at all and might need lifelong care. A person with mild CP, on the other hand, might walk a little awkwardly, but might not need any special help. CP does not get worse over time, though the exact symptoms can change over a person’s lifetime.”