Jordan High student athletes help two kids with cerebral palsy enjoy Fun Run
Sep 23, 2022, 9:45 PM | Updated: Sep 25, 2022, 5:41 pm
SANDY, Utah — As thousands of Utahns head to their local high schools for Friday night lights, it’s the Jordan High School athletes that shine a little brighter in the eyes of two Park Lane Elementary students.
Last Friday, two members of the Jordan High School football team showed up at Park Lane Elementary to push 9-year-old Lucas Myrick’s wheelchair in the PTA’s annual Fun Run.
“They ran pretty fast,” Lucas said.
The Beetdiggers’ Cross-Country team also joined in to show their support for 8-year-old Elsa Dent, who was eager to participate in the fun run using her walker.
“I ran super-duper fast,” Elsa said
Lucas and Elsa have cerebral palsy and other health challenges that limit their physical activity. But each child continues to defy odds.
“We didn’t know if he was going to walk, he was going to talk,” said Janell Myrick, Lucas’ mother.
“They didn’t give us a lot of hope,” said Emily Dent, Elsa’s mother. “It’s been amazing to watch her grow and turn into this awesome, determined, stubborn young lady.”
The PTA Fun Run hasn’t always been such a positive experience for Lucas, who often comes in last.
“He can’t be as fast as his peers, he’ll never be as fast as his peers,” Myrick said.
And when his mother mentioned this to a Canyons School District colleague, that colleague quickly jumped into action and called Jordan High’s athletic director.
“We were just super eager to help out. Park Lane is part of our community,” said Joel Sundquist, Jordan High School athletic director.
Sundquist reached out to the Beetdiggers’ football coach, who asked two players to team up with Lucas at the Fun Run and push him the 1.07 miles. But those players did more than just push Lucas, they became his friends.
“The team now is the Wheelies!” Lucas said. “I got the idea from the wheelchair.”
The players pushed Lucas at a record pace, and towards the end of the course, he got out of his wheelchair and wanted to try running with his new friends.
“I was beating one of them on my legs,” Lucas said. “I was running ahead of him, he couldn’t even keep up with me!”
“They were able to include somebody who is always usually last,” Myrick said. “He was like everybody else for that moment in time.”
Shortly after Lucas cross the finish line, Elsa followed. She ran the entire race using her walker.
“We got to the corner and I’m cheering for her and everybody behind me started cheering for her,” Dent said.
“And the police, they were cheering,” Elsa added.
“It just felt really great to have all these kids cheering for her and making her feel like a superstar because she is,” Dent said.
For Lucas and Elsa, the Fun Run has now become one of their favorite school activities, and the two can’t wait to participate again next year.
“I love the fun run,” Elsa said.
“It was really great, especially right at the beginning, and she was behind everybody and she didn’t even care, she was just excited to be doing it herself,” Dent said.
Sundquist said the Jordan High School student-athletes who participated in the fun run embody everything the Beetdiggers are trying to do in the community — build, uplift, and create inclusion. He hopes all the students at Park Lane Elementary know they’re part of the Beetdigger family.
“We are trying to embody the best parts of our community,” Sundquist said. “I personally really buy into the idea that the candle loses nothing by lighting another candle, and as many candles as we can light, like Lucas’ and Elsa’s, is a perfect example of that.”