Boy with cerebral palsy strives to finish race with school behind him—’he didn’t stop at all’

Growing up is challenging for people with cerebral palsy, and these people sometimes need a little encouragement to complete a difficult task. A boy in Ohio with this condition is known by his classmates as a “tough kid,” and his physical education teacher affirms that he’ll finish whatever it is he sets out to do, which is why he’s such an inspiration.

Matt Woodrum, 11, has always tried to overcome the obstacles life throws at him despite having spastic cerebral palsy, a condition that affects his muscle movement. An amazing example of this can be seen in a touching video uploaded to YouTube in 2012.

©YouTube Screenshot | ABC News

The then 11-year-old boy who was studying at Colonial Hills Elementary School in Worthington took part in a 400-meter race.

“The morning of the race, I was really nervous and scared, but I really wanted to do it,” recalled Matt, who admitted he did have some second thoughts as to whether or not he should go ahead or pull out of the race. But he insisted on not backing down.

©Video Screenshot | Vimeo

The five-minute video, which was filmed by his mom, Anne Curran, shows Matt initially starting the race together with his classmates, to be soon left behind by the lot.

Despite lagging behind, Matt didn’t stop, and soon, his physical education teacher, John Blaine, noticed that he was struggling.

When other students passed the fifth-grader on their second lap, Blaine walked over to check on him.

“Matt, you’re not going to stop, are you?” Blaine asked encouragingly.

©Video Screenshot | Vimeo

“No way,” Matt said while panting.

“I was real tired, but I still didn’t want to quit, recounted Matt. “I kept going.”

When Matt was on his second lap and Blaine was by his side, his classmates joined Matt, running by his side and cheering him on with, “Let’s go Matt! Let’s go!”

When the other students heard the cheers and looked up to see Matt ever determined to keep running, they too joined the crowd of supporters.

“He knew he had the whole school behind him,” one student recalled.

“He didn’t stop at all, he kept running,” another added.

His mother, who was watching all this from the side, recalled her thoughts at the moment, “is this really happening?”

©Video Screenshot | Vimeo

Once Matt finally passed the finish line, his classmates enthusiastically applauded and gave him high-fives.

Matt was thrilled with his classmates’ support.

“It was really cool and encouraging,” he said.

©Video Screenshot | Vimeo

To witness the other students supporting her son, Curran said: “They treat him like every other kid. They’re very great with him and they’re like a second family to him.”

Though Matt completed the race, he admits it wasn’t easy.

©Video Screenshot | Vimeo

“I knew I would finish it. But there were a couple of parts of the race where I really felt like giving up,” he recalled.

Curran said that it was not surprising.

“He’s been a fighter since day one, and I didn’t expect anything less,” she said.

“He pushes through everything. He pushes through the pain, and he pushes through however long it may take to complete a task. He wants to go big or go home,” she added.

©Video Screenshot | Vimeo

Though Matt picked a lengthy race, he was up for the challenge.

“I’m not surprised by his picking the hardest race,” said Blaine. “I’m inspired by that.”

And Blaine agreed with Curran.

“The kids will tell you that Matt never gives up on anything that he sets out to do. They knew he would cross that finish line, and they wanted to be a part of that,” he said.

©Video Screenshot | Vimeo

Blaine added that nobody knew that the race had been recorded that day.

“It was so fitting that we were all together. Matt was a huge part of that race, his classmates were a huge part of that race. It was a magic moment,” he said.

Watch the video below:

SportsCenter Feature: Matt Woodrum from ESPN Creative Services on Vimeo.

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