Korbin Anderson may wrestle in Normal, Ill., but he is nothing short of extraordinary.
A 17-year-old senior at Normal's University High, Anderson is in the midst of his fourth season on the grappling team despite gradually losing his vision in elementary school while battling Batten disease, according to The Pantagraph (h/t @camsmithsports).
For anyone unfamiliar with Batten disease, as I was prior to reading this feature, here is the description published by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke:
Batten disease is a fatal, inherited disorder of the nervous system that typically begins in childhood. Early symptoms of this disorder usually appear between the ages of 5 and 10 years, when parents or physicians may notice a previously normal child has begun to develop vision problems or seizures. In some cases the early signs are subtle, taking the form of personality and behavior changes, slow learning, clumsiness, or stumbling. Over time, affected children suffer mental impairment, worsening seizures, and progressive loss of sight and motor skills. Eventually, children with Batten disease become blind, bedridden, and demented. Batten disease is often fatal by the late teens or twenties.
According to The Pentagraph feature, Anderson, who can still sense light, no longer has the disease and receives not medication for it -- a phenomenon doctors have yet to explain. It's no wonder his classmates voted him homecoming king this past fall.
Defying all odds, Anderson owns a .500 record in his four-year prep wrestling career, including three victories while competing at 160, 170 and 182 pounds, the paper said. He reportedly has not been pinned since his freshman season.
"If I can do that, then pretty much anything else seems more possible," Anderson told The Pentagraph. "If I wasn’t treated like everybody else, I wouldn’t feel like I’m achieving what everybody else is achieving on the team."
After his freshman season, Anderson took up judo to benefit his wrestling, but the martial art has since become his true passion, according to the feature. Now a green belt, he reportedly captured silver this past summer in the 18-20 age division at the International Blind Sports Federation World Youth Championships in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Anderson is reportedly seeking funds in hopes of representing the U.S. in a Paralympics event in Germany next month. Sounds like this judo star needs a Kickstarter campaign.
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