Ezra Frech has endured more than the average person’s share of challenges ― and he is only 10 years old. He was born with disabilities that would cause most people to slow down and give up, and few people expected him to physically excel. Yet, far from deterred by his irregularities, Ezra continues to push himself, and today he boasts one of the most inspirational stories of the year.
Born With Congenital Differences
Though Ezra was born a healthy, happy baby boy, he did have some obvious anomalies that would make life difficult for him. Perhaps most obvious was baby Ezra’s left arm, which ended in a single finger rather than a full five-fingered hand. However, more detrimental to his development, Ezra’s left leg was excessively curved, and he was missing his left patella and fibula ― crucial bones that allow the leg to bend. Movement for baby Ezra was awkward and painful, and a single digit was not enough for him to grasp objects effectively. His parents and doctors imagined a better life ― but that life required Ezra to have dramatic surgeries.
Rebuilt by Modern Medicine
At the tender age of 2, Ezra went under the knife. The primary goal for Ezra’s surgeries was to create limbs that gave the boy more mobility and utility, especially as he aged.
Initially, doctors amputated Ezra’s left leg below the hip, replacing the kneeless leg with a human-built alternative. By streamlining the non-functioning leg into a short stump, doctors created an appendage that would better fit modern prosthetics. Additionally, using the big toe from the discarded limb, doctors gave Ezra a second finger on his left hand, which allowed him strength and dexterity he previously lacked.
After a couple years of recovery, Ezra received his first prostheses at age 4. The Hanger Clinic gave Ezra two different legs: one with an articulated knee for everyday use and a running blade designed for high activity. For the first time in his life, Ezra was able to use two functional legs to walk with a normal gait, but more than that ― Ezra was able to run and jump.
Inspired by Physical Feats
Even before Ezra received his artificial limb, he was entranced by sports. Baby Ezra could spend hours rolling balls back and forth across the floor, and he learned to count early (albeit by twos) by watching professional basketball games. As soon as he could stand at 1 and a half years, Ezra practiced shooting basketballs; throughout his recovery, he would devote hours to running around the backyard, increasing his endurance, and perfecting his form. He simply couldn’t wait to begin playing sports, and when he donned his new leg, he finally got his wish.
Empowered to Try Harder
Despite Ezra’s athletic zeal, his prosthetic leg didn’t immediately transform him into a sports prodigy. Ezra often tells the story of his first experience on the basketball court in kindergarten after obtaining his first leg: He missed every shot he took, and instead of completing his set like the other kids, Ezra ran away disheartened. Fortunately, Ezra’s coach pulled Ezra aside and told him to continue making shots and “finish well.” Ezra took that lesson to heart, and from then on, he always pushed himself to complete his physical endeavors, no matter how poorly he performed.
Eventually, Ezra did master his leg ― and then some. He travels the country to compete in national competitions, like the Endeavor Games, the Desert Challenge Games, and the National Junior Disability Championships, and to date, Ezra holds nine national records for junior track and field events, including the long jump and the high jump. Plus, Ezra competes in district basketball, soccer, and football leagues, finishing his season as his team’s starting quarterback.
Heartening to Everyone
Ezra’s achievements are testaments to the power of committing to one’s goals, something even tycoon business leaders could learn from. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what one’s obstacles are ― it only matters that one strives to overcome them.
Ezra isn’t afraid to admit that he is challenged by his differences every day. Every single step puts unnatural strain on his body, and he sometimes does pray for a divine solution to his problems. However, Ezra says, “I have to think about what I have instead of what I don’t have.” Ezra appreciates his body for what it allows him to do, and he wants people to know that it is OK to be different ― sometimes, it even allows you to be more amazing than you thought possible.
Image of Ezra running by Jason Gould from Angel City Sports
Featured photo credit: LifeHack via media.lifehack.org
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