January 29, 2010

For the Love of the Game

Like most 10-year-old boys, Jack Ellig likes sports.

He not only knows all the basketball, baseball and football stats, he plays basketball every chance he gets, and in his closet, he has jerseys in place of t-shirts.

In short, Jack Ellig is a die-hard sports fan, and even his cerebral palsy doesn’t slow him down.

Jack and his identical twin Bryan Ellig were born with twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, a condition found in the womb, where one twin receives too much blood, and one, not enough.

As a result, Jack had something called a grade three bleed, or a brain hemorrhage, which led to developmental delays and weakness on his left side.

Despite that limitation he can swim, bowl, run track, slice a golf-ball further than twin, and even ski with the best.

“I don’t think he even knows he’s got special needs,” said Scott Ellig, Jack’s father.

But even if Jack doesn’t realize it, his parents Diane and Scoot Ellig knew from the start.

Though Jack and Bryan would play together as children, at about seven years old, their differences began to show. From birth Bryan had a heart condition, but he still developed normally.

“Up until about Kindergarten, Bryan didn’t have any idea there was anything wrong with Jack,” said Diane Ellig.

It was then the family teamed up with WDSRA, a special recreation association.

Scott Ellig found at WDSRA Jack’s handicaps became normal.

“they put him on a team with a bunch of kids at different disability levels, but he gets to play all the time, he plays in all the tournaments, he loves to shoot baskets, he’s probably one of the better shooters on the team. Practice is his favorite because he gets to run around with the kids, and he doesn’t think they’re any different than the normal kids.”

And when Jack plays, he doesn’t seem any different at all; in fact, he scored a winning basket in a championship basketball game last year.

Coach William Meyers, a volunteer coach a WDSRA for 12 years, has been Jack’s athletic mentor.

“He comes out, he’s got a great attitude, and when I say jump, he says how high. He’s a wonderful kid, a great athlete.”

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