The Journey Begins

Posted by BORP on Behalf of Teamcraven. Teamcraven will be posting regularly about Sam, member of the U.S. Paralympic Team for Track and Field, as he trains for the 2011 IPC Athletics World Championships. We’re looking forward to keeping up with Sam. Thanks Teamcraven!

Sam prepares to throw

September, 2010

Ron and I were working in Television in Denver, Colorado, when we met.  We have three boys, Matt, Brad and Sam.  Sam was born July 17, 1986. (Matt was 12 and Brad was 4) At the age of 13 months he received a diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy.  We eventually learned the cause, after months of MRI’s and evaluations. The part of his brain that communicates between the two hemispheres, the Corpus Callosum, was not fully developed.  We were devastated.

We moved to California in 1991 and began talking to neurologists and Shriners Hospital for Children (then in San Francisco).  Sam was to have a Dorsal Rhyzotomy, where about 30% of the nerves in his spinal cord that were causing his legs to scissor would be cut. UCSF was the best place.  Therapy at Shriners was highly recommended.

Shortly after moving to California, Sam began receiving Physical and Occupational Therapy at California Children’s Services in Concord, California.  His OT noticed he was frustrated by his disabilities and was somewhat depressed.  She recommended we get him involved with BORP.  At age 5, Sam started playing wheelchair basketball on the Prep Team.  He was thrilled with “going fast”.  After the surgery in 1993, basketball (and BORP) helped him recover both mentally and physically.

Over the years, Sam enjoyed playing in Prep, Junior Varsity and even a Varsity game or two.  All along the way, we worked with him on his daily living skills with BORP sports, trips, coaches and teammates as incentives.  He was MVP when the Junior Varsity won back to back National Championships but the most valuable piece was his growing independence.

Sam was able to participate on his middle school track and field team and went on to become a member of his high school field squad but BORP really allowed Sam to excel in track and field.  With a throwing chair made from a backwards bar stool, he travelled with the team to New Jersey in 2001 and helped win the large team award with gold medals in swimming and field.  The next year he won golds in swimming, track and field, rolling around the track to beat a former Paralympian, Chris Ridgeway, in the 100 meter.  When he went to Australia in 2005 with Team USA, he was swimming, lifting weights, rolling track in the 100 and 200 meters and throwing the shot, discus and javelin. 

Sports were an incentive for Sam to develop daily living skills.  Because of his disability, motor planning and memory are difficult and so dressing and adhering to a schedule were a problem.  On a trip with BORP, he had to get down to the lobby by a certain time, order food, interact and keep up with the group.  One of us went on the trips but we needed to help all the kids so Sam had to keep up and do a lot on his own. 

He is living in his own apartment at the back of our house and is currently at the Paralympic Training Camp in Chula Vista, California (September 21-28, 2010).  He still needs some help with schedules and gets a good meal or two at the “main house”, but Sam has come a long way and much of his progress is because BORP provided the incentives we needed to encourage him at home.