Barrier Buster - By Mike Lynch
Sean Mitchell is a senior at Triton
Regional High School in Byfield. Sean has been a member of the cross
country team for all his four years at Triton and runs for the winter
and spring track teams as well. That Sean runs is somewhere between
remarkable and unfathomable.
Sean was born with cerebral palsy -
a condition that affects muscle control and coordination. A simple act
like standing still can be a challenge. When he was born, doctors were
unsure if Sean would ever walk. They never consulted Sean on this or
asked his opinion because he would have laughed at them. Not only did
Sean walk he began to run as he grew older and when he was a freshman at
Triton he showed up for tryouts with the cross country team - and the
rest is history.
"It's a remarkable thing," says his coach Joe Colbert,
"not so much that he is running, but that he is improving. He not only
finishes the race, he has actually beat a couple of runners this year."
I visited with Sean recently and asked him what his message was to
people who have been challenged physically. He smiled and simply
replied, "never give up." Three simple words, but words that drive him
24/7. Cross Country running can be a solitary sport, your constant
companions are fresh air, sunshine and the satisfaction of pushing
yourself to the limit. The course is usually three miles and can
traverse hills, rocks, woods, busy streets and open fields. Sean starts
out with the pack and runs at his own pace. He has never quit, he has
never dropped out of a race. There is usually a throng at the finish
line to greet him, including his parents.
"I am extremely proud of him. He is an amazing kid,"beams his father Bob. " He has no barriers, he just gets out there and does it every day. He does his best and just tries, tries, tries."
His teammates embrace Sean's friendship and enthusiasm for the sport.
"Sean is the epitome of what cross country is all about. He is the ideal person you want as a teammate," say team captain Tyler Colbert.
I couldn't agree more. Sean is living and running proof that you don't
always have to cross the finish line first to be a winner!