For many kids, playing sports is an important part of childhood. Whether they play on the local soccer team, shoot hoops in the driveway, or spend afternoons on the playground, being physically active brings joy and excitement to children and brings back fond memories or parents and adults.
If sports teach kids to work hard and persist, even when it’s difficult. No one knows this more than Ezra Frech.
Ezra Frech, a ten year old from Los Angeles, has been fascinated with sports since he could remember. His father said he learned to count by two’s before he could count by one’s from watching so many LA Lakers basketball games. Ezra is not like every ordinary sports-enthused child, though. Ezra was born missing his left knee, fibula, and three left fingers.
Many people would look at Ezra’s disability as a great misfortune and may feel pity for him. But this never slowed down Ezra. He became active in the Paralympic community at age seven. He started competing in Paralympic swimming and track and field events. Participating in sporting events enhanced Ezra’s continuously growing love of sports.
Ezra learned that his physical disability is an opportunity rather than a misfortune from an impressively young age, even before he became a Paralympic athlete. Ezra has been speaking at schools since he was four years old. He wants the world to know: he is an athlete, not a disabled person. He spreads this with “Being different is okay,” and his motto, “You can dream it, you can hope for it, or you can make it happen.”
Working hard has been natural to Ezra since he was an infant. He was able to pull himself up at 11 months old, the same time he got his first prosthetic leg. He went through a more extensive surgery at two and a half years old than most people do in an entire lifetime. As a small child, Ezra had clocked in several hundred hours of physical therapy to improve the functionality of his left hand. The patience and determination alone from a child that young is impressive.
Ezra’s growing list of accomplishments speaks for itself. At age ten, Ezra has: broken nine track and field records for his age and classification division, become the starting quarter back for his school’s flag football team, gotten a blue belt in karate, and played club basketball for Sterling Basketball Academy.
Ezra has been the inspiration behind Team Ezra, which has raised over $400,000 for nonprofit organizations that support the physically disabled since Ezra was one-years-old. Ezra also serves as a mentor for younger children who also have physical disabilities. He encourages those with disabilities to live a full life, and shows ways people like him and overcome their disabilities and flourish.
I could spend all day listing out the athletic accomplishments and awards of young Ezra Frech, like his appearance in the Ellen Show and his nomination for the Sportskid of the Year in 2014. Yet, what is most admirable outside of his deep perseverance is his passion for inspiring others to overcome obstacles like he has. He wants to help others recognize the potential they may not see in themselves.
Ezra Frech has proven, almost since the moment he was born, that what makes you different does not have to slow you down. Your differences can make you even stronger, if you let them. He does not choose to define himself through his disability: he chose to excel through what makes him unique instead.
If you would like to read more about Ezra try the following links which were rthe inspiration for this post: http://www.angelcitygames.org