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This weekend, Ohio will hold its 106th State Track and Field Championships.
This year’s tournament will be a lot different that those in the past, and one local competitor is a big reason why.
Jenna Fessmeyer attends Southeast High School. She said she loves competing and track is her favorite sport.
When she was born, doctors told her parents that she would be in a wheelchair her entire life and she would be the last one to crawl and sit up; however, Fessmeyer proved them wrong.
“She was the first to sit up and the first to crawl,” said her mother, Cindy, who also happens to be Fessmeyer’s coach.
And she has never been in a wheelchair, until now.
“I compete in wheelchair track. The 100, 400, 800 and shot put,” Fessmeyer said.
Fessmeyer was born with proximal femoral focal deficiency, or PFFD.
“It’s where your leg is shortened, and you’re born without a hip-joint,” she explained.
But she’s never treated it as a hurdle. She has competed in volleyball, basketball, and golf; and she even throws the discus.
But at this year’s Track and Field State Tournament, she’ll compete in the wheelchair. It’s the first time the state has recognized Paralympic events.
“The first time she went all the way around the track in the finish line, and her first words to me were ‘Mom, that was really fun,’” Cindy said.
“That’s when I really realized this was my chance,” Fessmeyer said.
And if qualifying wasn’t difficult enough, consider this: Fessmeyer is the only female in the state to do so, and this week she’ll compete against the guys.
But earning a medal will be icing on the cake for a trip around the track that means so much more.
“You can’t measure the heart. You can’t measure the heart, but I think it’s hope to us to say, don’t let anyone hold you back,” Cindy said.
“Take any chance you get, and run with it,” Fessmeyer said. “I don’t really think I have any fears.”