Ontario, Wisc. (WXOW)- Brookwood 7th Grader Ethan Rolon is the most positive kid at track practice. There is no challenge that can stop him.
“You stop moving you lose,” Rolon said. “There’s no reason you can’t do it. It’s just running. You are literally just walking fast basically.”
However it isn’t as easy as he makes it seem. Imagine running without being able to see where you are going. Ethan was born with Glaucoma and is legally blind.
“I was supposed to be blind by the time I was five,” Rolon said.
Glaucoma is an eye disease that gradually results in loss of vision by permanently damaging the optic nerve. However, this disease never damaged his passion for running.
He knew that in order to go out for the track team, he couldn’t do it alone. That’s where his Social Studies teacher came into the picture. Jeanine Brieske runs along side Ethan in every practice and every meet.
“When he said that he wanted to go out for track, they were trying to find somebody that would be a good match for him,” Brieske said. “They thought of me, and I was like ‘that would be so much fun.'”
Rolon relies on Brieske’s directions, while they both hold onto the ends of a string binding them together.
“I am not a coach,” Brieske said. “I keep saying,’I am not your coach, I am just am another friend to run with. I’m his eyes telling him what the terrain is like, and if we are doing hills, encouraging him and talking to him all the time because he just needs that voice of somebody saying,’okay you can keep going.'”
“I trust that a lot actually because it’s all I have to trust,” Rolon said. “If I don’t trust it, then I have more of a chance of going off the track then I do of staying on it. Just have to trust other people when you have my disability.”
This relationship has not only benefited Ethan.
“I just have more appreciation for everything because I love to explain what’s going on around us, and it makes me appreciate everything.”
With Jeanine by his side, Ethan has big goals in mind.
“I want to someday break some kind of running record,” Rolon said.
His motto on the track and in life, “Just keep moving.”