Desmond “Dez” Jackson is a remarkable 14-year-old. He holds a gold medal in the 400-meter run that he won at the International Wheelchair & Amputee Sports World Junior Games. He also won a bronze in the 100.
The Hillside freshman aims big. Among his goals is to become the youngest athlete in the 2016 Paralympic Games.
It seems Dez, who had his leg amputated as an infant because of a rare condition, chooses to define himself not by his differences, but by his strengths. He sees himself as an athlete, ready and willing to compete both in the para-athletic world and against his high school peers.
Dez is aiming to run for Hillside’s track team, pending a decision by the N.C. High School Athletic Association. Dez, this week’s Grit Award winner, is driven to run. We hope the NCHSAA will see its way to allowing that.
“The young man is a competitor,” Hillside athletic director Bob Hill said, also noting that Dez is a trailblazer, not just for other para-athletes, but for giving Hillside the opportunity for making inroads for disabled athletes.
And Dez’s take on running? “It just shows everybody that I can do what they can do, too” We are looking forward to seeing you on the track, Dez.