Durham youth runner beating the odds

Posted October 2, 2013
Updated October 3, 2013

— It doesn't take long to be impressed by a kid who spends his Saturday mornings in the weight room.

"Even though he's small, he has the heart of a lion and acts like he's seven feet tall," said Desmond Jackson's track coach Christopher Williams.

"I'm trying to be a champion," said the Durham native Jackson.

Desmond Jackson Mitchell: Durham boy making his mark despite disability

So he's more than willing to put up with his coach's push.

"You have to do more than the average person would do," said Jackson

But average is not in Jackson's vocabulary.

"He was born 13 years ago with a rare birth defect," said Jackson's mother Deborah. "It was decided that amputation would give him the best quality of life. It was really challenging, that's not what you want to hear as a new mom. "

Three years later, while searching for a support group for Jackson, mother and son visited a track meet in Florida for disabled athletes.

"Amazingly while we were there, they chose Desmond for the finale," said Deborah. "They set up a mock race. Desmond ran against an accomplished paralympian and he was a hit."

The three year old, running on a tiny prosthetic leg, fell in love with track and field.

Now 13, he's grown into a bigger faster leg and he's excelling.

"I'm faster than most kids when we run," said Jackson. "It makes me feel good when I beat a lot of kids. That's all I want to do."

And he does that often. He recently won a gold medal at the Junior World games. Jackson's next goal is becoming the youngest athlete to represent the United States in the paralympics in 2016

"it's gratification that you don't know," said Deborah. "Most people think I'm Desmond's inspiration. It's the other way around."


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  • Toddler10-21 Oct 3, 2013

    Good luck Desmond. Great story!!

  • westernwake1 Oct 3, 2013

    A positive inspirational story. Great to see on WRAL. Keep running, Desmond! You will achieve your goals.

  • kmorrevenge Oct 3, 2013

    View quoted thread

    i agree

  • StunGunn Oct 2, 2013

    Desmond - and his mom - are such an inspiration. Great story.

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