This week, we received a message from a proud mom. Her 9-year-old son, Ezra, has been selected as a finalist for Sports Illustrated SportsKid of the Year. Of the six finalists, he is the only athlete with a physical disability. Ezra has set seven national track and field records, is a great basketball and football player, skateboards, plays guitar and writes music. He also recently earned his blue belt in karate. We have an amazing opportunity to highlight the capabilities of athletes with disabilities like Ezra on a national stage. We want to spread the word that kids with disabilities can still participate in any way they want to! Check out the essay below, written by Ezra for his nomination for SportsKid of the Year! Vote for him here.
By: Ezra Frech
I was born with physical differences, missing four fingers on my left hand and missing my left knee and left fibula. When I was two and a half years old I had a 15 hour surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital to amputate the twisted lower part of my left leg that would never have worked properly. During this surgery, the doctors also transplanted the big toe from my amputated foot to my left hand to help me pick up stuff with it. Two years after that I had another surgery to help my left hand work better. The surgeries were successful and now I can play and do sports and everything. I will admit that sometimes it’s hard being different. People stare at me wherever I go. Kids point and stare. I know it’s because they are curious and they don’t mean to be hurtful. But it’s exhausting having to answer questions about myself everywhere I go. Sometimes, especially when I was younger, I wished I was different and I was like other kids, but now I’m grateful for my differences and realize we are all different and bring special gifts to this world. I’ve learned to get through the hard times and move on.
I have loved sports since I was a baby. My favorite sports are basketball, soccer, football, swimming, skateboarding, and karate. I have played in lots of basketball leagues since the age of 5 and this summer I was the captain of my undefeated summer league team. This summer I also helped my dad coach my 5 year-old brother’s basketball team. I enjoyed working with the little guys and watching them improve during the season.
This Fall, I’m the starting QB for my school football team. I like football because I like to throw run, QB is fun because you get to make big plays and hit receivers on the run.
I started Karate a year ago and really enjoy the movements, discipline, and friendships at the dojo. I recently received my blue belt in Karate and I’m testing for blue green soon.
Last year I started competing in track and field and I flew with my dad to the Endeavor Games in Oklahoma City. This summer, I competed in the Dessert Challenge Games in Mesa, AZ and in the Junior National Disability Championships in Ames, Iowa. At the NJDC I set 7 national track and field records in the 60, 100, 400, long jump, shot put, discus, and javelin. I trained for 3 months straight every day with the best coach, Coach Asher from UCLA. Coach Asher had me do a college-level workout and, trust me, it was tough. My dad is now working on creating a Paralympic qualifying event in L.A. for kids, adults and veterans with physical disabilities.
In school, I excel at math, music and spelling. I was voted for student council in second grade. I usually get good scores on my tests and I hope to maintain the good grades, but oh boy, fourth grade is hard so far.
I also talk to kids about being different and saying that you can never give up. I have spoken to kids at public schools in Los Angeles and every year I speak to the kindergarten class at my school on who I am and what makes me different. I have presented to my grade and the entire lower school, including kids and parents, about my family history and about how I’m different and how we are all unique.
Every year my family, friends, and I go to a triathlon in San Diego that raises money for the Challenged Athletes Foundation. We are known as Team Ezra and have our own team of athlete-fundraisers and our own booth. Over the years we have raised over 300 thousand dollars for physically challenged kids and adults who need wheelchairs, prosthetic legs, or financial support so they can get into sports. Usually about 100 family members and friends join us and we have a blast with a rooftop party and then the next morning at 7am there is a triathlon for the adults. I usually attend a bunch of CAF events and compete in the kids fun run and also run a 5k. I love working with all the little kid amputees also. They are adorable and love to see us older kids and what we can do with our different legs. It’s nice for the young kids to see other kids like them.
Thank you for allowing me to share my story and for considering me for the Sports Illustrated Kid of the Year.
9 Years Old
Kids Included Together (KIT) is a non-profit located in San Diego, CA and Washington, DC. We help make the world a more inclusive place by providing live and online training to people who work with kids. We teach strategies, accommodations and best practices to include kids with and without disabilities in before & after school programs. Inclusive environments create stronger communities. Learn more about our work at www.KITonline.org.