Teammates help teen with cerebral palsy finish first during track meet

Posted at 12:55 PM, Apr 29, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-29 18:41:20-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Nathan VanDyken, 14, doesn't take a single step for granted.

“I love track," he said with a smile.

His coach said he's full of passion and spirit. The Forest Hills Northern middle schooler tops it off with practice.

“I am the hardest worker," VanDyken said.

His mother said he was born premature at 6 months. Diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a small wind pipe, and hearing difficulties, VanDyken has had to compete all of his life. But with the help of a walker, the 14-year-old doesn't let his disabilities slow him down.

The latest battle came Tuesday afternoon at a track meet in Greenville during his heat of the 70 meter dash.

“Yesterday, I did very good at track and the boys slows down for me so I could win, and I got first place. It was amazing," VanDyken recalled.

Instead of sprinting to the finish, VanDyken's schoolmates, Ben Hood, Noah Jacobs, and Victor Asntillan rallied around their teammate. Nathan won the race. The trio said the plan came together right before the gun went off.

“A man bent over and said to us, at least in my ear, he said it would be a nice deed if you ran along with him and cheered him on," Jacobs said.

He added, "So I think we all just kind of stuck with that and just clapped for him, cheered him on.”

Asntillan said, “We’re all just part of a team, and nobody’s different than anybody really.”

They took sportsmanship to a whole new level. It's a concept track coach Patrick Stecco said is taught in practice, but he said this selfless act came as a complete surprise.

"Well, we talk a lot at practice, and we talk a lot at school about being part of family, being part of a community. At Northern, we’re the huskies. So we talk about being part of the husky pack," Stecco told FOX 17.

Jacobs said, “We’re all the same and part of a family. But some kids, they weren’t built the same, and everyone wants a chance for victory. So, we wanted to give that to Nathan."