By Dave Denniston
IRVINE, California. May 13. "WHO is that kid?" several people asked throughout the day. "He doesn't stop!" They would continue on. "He's just incredible!"
There were many highlights from this year's Dave Denniston Relay Across America, but in my opinion Patrick Ivison stole the show. He embraced the entire day's events with vigor that was unmatched by anyone on deck.
When Patrick was only 14 months old and just learning how to walk, he was out taking a stroll with his mom. Suddenly, a car backed out of a driveway without looking and ran over little Patrick. He suffered a C4-C5 incomplete injury that left him with limited use of his arms and torso and virtually no use of his legs. Now eleven, Patrick is an honor student in the sixth grade as well as a very busy athlete.
"Being in a wheelchair has taught me to focus on my abilities rather than my disability," say Patrick. Abilities he has. Patrick's mom is busier than the average soccer mom. She takes Patrick to basketball practice, quad rugby practice, surfing, cycling, and on this particular Saturday: swimming. It was Patrick who asked if he could swim in a relay. Rather than swim the one exhausting length that he needed too, he swam all four. It was his first time swimming.
He wasn't done. During the inner-tube relay, he climbed inside of the inner-tube while four cute girls including his sister and Natalie Coughlin pushed him back and fourth. There wasn't a bigger smile on deck. (Several girls had the chance to swim with Lenny Krazelburg in a t-shirt relay, but Patrick’s smile was still bigger.)
Patrick didn't just spend time in the water. He cheered for other people in the water. Not knowing many people at the event didn't stop him. He cheered for any and every person that needed a little encouragement. His mom finally had to make him stop to drink some water about mid-day.
When I took steps at the event, he was the one that was rolling right at my side cheering me on every step of the way. Walking for me wasn't easy on Saturday. I didn't have time to warm-up so I was extremely stiff and sore. I wanted to stop walking after covering about 20 yards. He kept me going to the end. Patrick Ivison inspires everyone.
Patrick has proven to me and everyone around him that anybody can do anything if they really want to. Encouragement and enthusiasm make the difference.