Growing up with sports by your side is an exciting process. I grew up playing sports and I can attest that I would not be the same without them. Some people thrive off of competition, some may play because it's the cool thing to do. The benefits of athletics as we age are exponential and sometimes we take them for granted. We often forget the real importance of being part of a team and how lucky we may be to put our healthy bodies to good use. There are children in this world who don't get these chances and there are some who can simply prove why sports have a better meaning to your soul off the field, than on it in the long run. I've come across a couple astounding young celebrities in the sports world that show us exactly why sports are important besides the competition and wins. So before you bash sports for simplifying stereotypes and causing ruckus within someone's individuality, take a look at these two little guys who show us all why sports really matter.
Josiah Viera is a young boy from Hegins, PA. Josiah was diagnosed with the rare Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria syndrome at just six months old, commonly shortened to just Progeria. Josiah suffers from this rare genetic disease that causes accelerated aging in children. Its name, of Greek origin, means "prematurely old." Each year of Josiah's precious life equates to about 10 years of aging. Sadly, according to doctors, the chances of a child being born with Progeria are about one in 4 million (Houser). The little life expectancy of Josiah is between eight and thirteen years old. Despite Josiah's mini strokes and seizures, he had one dream in life: to play baseball.
In 2010 he first picked up a bat and put on the helmet that his little head could barely hold, and couldn't stop smiling. After much deliberation from the doctors, Josiah joined his Tri-Valley White Sox teammates and played in a three-inning game on May 5, 2010. "My teammates are my friends," Josiah began to consistently say. Josiah developed a special relationship with his fellow t-ballers. The bond Josiah formed with that baseball diamond and his bat was like no other.
Josiah is just one example of hundreds of young children who are suffering from something they do not deserve, but are still able to live out their dreams through sports. Baseball meant something to Josiah and because of baseball, his life was turned around when he thought it never could be. Playing a sport and being a part of a team offered Josiah no solution to his disease, but an abundance of hope and happiness. He was finally like other kids, in fact he was even named the team t-ball captain after just one season. Take a look at Josiah's inspiring full E:60 story here: http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=5788144 (keep plenty of tissues nearby).
Jacob Jarvis: For those of you unfamiliar with this highly popular story, let me enlighten you to the wonderful life of Jacob Jarvis. While it's easy to get caught up in all the madness of college football, there can also be an extremely positive impact of it. Jacob Jarvis, an avid 15-year-old Buckeye's fan, suffers from Duchenne muscular dystrophy (MD), a genetic disorder that results in muscle degeneration and unfortunately has no cure as of now. The average life expectancy for Jacob is about 25 years old. MD has limited Jacob's entire life, especially his dream to play football.
Every good moment is appreciated by Jacob and his family because he doesn't get too many. Being a Buckeye's fan, it was Jacob's life-long dream to get on that Ohio State football field and watch a game. Thanks to head coach Urban Meyer, in the summer of 2013, Jacob's dream came true. He was adopted entirely as a full time team member to the already filled roster. Did you know that Ohio State won the national championship in 2013? You got it, Jacob got to be a part of that legendary final game for the Buckeye's, right on the sideline next to his teammates. He was part of the confetti-filled AT&T stadium and the vibrant locker room. Jacob never even thought twice about his MD at the time. He was relentless for a moment.
Jacob got to be a part of something that came close to heaven in his mind. Through every practice, lift, and game, Jacob was there. Although Jacob unfortunately might be on a clear path to deterioration with his muscles, he certainly lived out more than he could have ever imagined with the Ohio State football team. Jacob's revitalizing story on ESPN is here: http://espn.go.com/blog/bigten/post/_/id/114285/oh... and is nothing short of magical.
These two amazing young boys give us that extra push to remember why we love sports today. There's more to it than just winning games, having the most goals, being the all-star, etc. We take too much for granted within athletics and sometimes we just need to remember children like Josiah and Jacob to ground ourselves. Because of sports there are lives that are bettered simply, thanks to the love of the game.