Inspiring gals come in all shapes, sizes, and ages. Camryn just happens to be a teenager, but she’s an inspiration for women of all ages. Camryn was born with spina bifida, but that doesn’t limit her. I’ve had the pleasure of watching this powerhouse of a kid grow up alongside my youngest daughter and her friends since kindergarten. Camryn uses a wheelchair, and the other kids don’t even seem to notice. They understand when and how to step in if she needs assistance without second guessing anything. It is simply natural for them. A lot of that has to do with Camryn’s openness and authenticity. Everyone who meets her falls in love with her! The wheelchair definitely doesn’t define Camryn. She’s a force!
The girls just graduated from 8th grade- next stop high school. Camryn’s headed that way with a brand new passion. Camryn is the kind of kid who is active in just about everything that school has to offer. She sings in the choir. She volunteers. She manages the volleyball and basketball teams. She earns good grades. Yet, Camryn had her sights set on more.
Camryn asked the track coaches if it would be possible for her to join the track team. The coaches and the athletic director put Camryn’s family in touch with Kelly Behlmann of DASA (Disabled Athlete Sports Association), an expert in the rules and regulations for disabled athletes. Behlmann invited Camryn and her family to meet her in Columbia, Missouri, the next day! That meant rearranging work and school schedules and making a long drive on short notice, but her parents were willing to do whatever it took to get Camryn there. They assumed that they were simply going to try out a racing wheelchair and see what it was all about. Nope! Behlmann had other plans. Camryn was there to join Team DASA. And that racing wheelchair? It was hers to take home! It is a “loaner” chair for Camryn to use until she can have one custom-made.
Camryn was ready to try it out at the final track meets of the school season. She said that it was “really different from my everyday chair. I’m getting to know how to use it. Balance is very different.” She laughed as she said, “If you sit up, you’ll tip backward. It’s called a turtle, and it’s happened to me.”
Camryn’s friends wanted her to be with them on the team in whatever way possible. Camryn’s mom noted that the kids took on the challenge of helping Cam break down her wheelchair so that she could ride the bus to meets with them. They pushed her through rough terrain and at meets where things weren’t always ADA accessible for her. “She’s just really blessed to go to a school with such great kids.” In turn, all of the kids cheered for each other and gave high fives following their events. Camryn was truly one of the athletes on the team.
The cheers from the crowd–not just Camryn’s school, but all of the schools participating in those meets– were roaring as she raced around the track. The smile on that girl’s face following her races was infectious. Look out, high school track teams! Camryn has the summer to practice in that new chair. If I know that girl’s determination, she’s going to set some records on the track next season.
When the community found out about Camryn’s new passion, people jumped on board. Fundraisers started happening in Camryn’s hometown with the hope of raising enough money to purchase a racing chair that fits her specific needs. If you’re interested in this cause, message me and I’ll hook you up with fundraising efforts for that new, custom-fitted racing wheelchair.