celebrate education - brought to you by the amarillo globe-news

Blind ambition : 20/20 in class, on mat

Hereford wrestler overcomes vision impairment

By Terrence Hunley

Hereford senior Terry Thomas has been in an uphill battle since he was born.

The 18-year-old wrestler was born legally blind yet has excelled on the wrestling mat and is weeks away from graduating.

"In sports and life, you always have people looking down on you," Thomas said. "Especially when you are visually impaired. I had a lot of people looking down on me - coaches, teachers. You have to work harder than everybody else and prove them wrong. Every day I step onto the wrestling mat or into the school I am always proving somebody wrong."

Thomas has a few materials geared toward helping him in the classroom.

"There are certain modifications that I have to have, like large-print books and large-print papers," he said. "Other than that, it is just like being a regular student. Just sometimes you have to work harder."

Thomas qualified for the 2009 UIL State Wrestling Championships for the first time in February. Thomas placed third in the regional tournament to advance to the state meet.

"I thought it was pretty cool to cap off the season by making it to state," Thomas said. "It is always hard to do that, but when you have extra baggage it's even harder. I don't look at it as overcoming anything. I think of it as being like everyone else and doing what you have to do to get by."

Hereford wrestling coach Sion King noticed Thomas' determination toward the end of the season.

"I think this year he made a big turnaround," King said. "We got him redirected toward the end of the year and he was able to make the breakthrough and qualify for state. Early in the season it was a question if he would even make it out of district."

King thinks that some of the qualities Thomas has learned in wrestling will help him later in life.

"He is very strong-willed and confident," King said. "If he keeps those qualities channeled in the right direction he is going to do some great things. I am looking forward to seeing him at graduation walking across the stage. Really, it is even a more important moment than going to state. Hopefully he can take what he has learned on the mat and take it out into the world."

Beating the Odds is a series published in the Amarillo Globe-News from May 10-24 designed to tell the stories of all kinds of students who are graduating despite the challenges they’ve faced. It is part of Celebrate Education, a program designed to bring awareness to the need of educational attainment in the Texas Panhandle.

calendar of events
  • January 11
    Kickoff of 2009 Program
    Find out what Celebrate Education is all about in this special section in your Sunday paper.
  • March 7
    Regional Spelling Bee, West Texas A&M University
    The annual Regional Spelling Bee will feature the top spellers from the Amarillo area. The top five winners will receive scholarship money ranging from $500 to $5,000 and the winner will travel to Washington, D.C., in June to represent the area in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
  • Spring and Fall
    Amarillo Reads community-wide reading projects.
    Dates and details TBA
  • April
    Amarillo Education Matching Grants Program. Exact date TBA
  • April 10
    What's a Kid to Do Special Section
  • April 12
    What's a Kid to Do at the Amarillo Civic Center
    This event will focus on activities and camps for children to participate in during the summer..
  • May 8-29
    Beating the Odds
    A series of stories published daily in the Amarillo Globe-News during the graduation season that profiles people who have inspiring stories to tell about the degree they are about to receive.
  • May 12
    Ready for the Real World program at Amarillo Civic Center
    AISD juniors get training on what's going to face them in a little more than a year.
  • May 16
    Best and Brightest Special Section
  • May 16
    Best and Brightest Event at West Texas A&M University
  • Fall
    Discover College Day
    Fifth graders from area schools visit college campuses.
  • October 1
    Great Jobs Special Section
    Focusing on well paying jobs available in the area that people may not know about.
  • November 2
    Career Education Special Section
    Focusing on businesses and others in the community helping young people gain a career vision.
  • November
    Yes You Can Event
    Designed to help people gain information about the next level of education from GED to PhD. Date TBA.
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