Wheelchair can’t slow down NFM high school track sensation

Published: March 6, 2010  |  Source: winknews.com
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NORTH FORT MYERS, Fla. – A North Fort Myers High School track athlete is breaking boundaries and inspiring even her toughest competitors.

At a young age, Arielle Rausin suffered a spinal cord injury in a car accident that paralyzed her from the waist down. For some people, a devastating injury like that would mean the end of competitive sports. For Arielle, it was only the beginning.

In her races, she may be the only one on the track, but she’s racing against the toughest of competitors. Herself.

“Everyone is looking at you and you know that, and it’s kind of nerve racking,” Rausin said. “But then all the adrenaline you get right before and while you’re racing, I just love it. It’s my passion.”

She’s been zooming around the track since the 7th grade. Last year, however, she overcame one of her biggest hurdles. “I wasn’t able to compete against anyone for points or anything, but we sent some e-mails and got some things arranged and now any kid in Florida in a wheelchair in high school is able to compete,” Rausin said.

Off the track, she’s typical bubbly Sophomore. But when the gun goes off, she’s an iron-willed competitor. “We call her “beast mode” actually,” Rausin’s coach Tiffany Boucher said. “it’s just her work ethic, I guess that’s the new slang, “beast mode,” and she exemplifies that.”

“She’s faster than all of us, she always is, and she’s amazing,” teammate Rebecca Karttunen said. “She’s able to go further than anyone I’ve seen.”

It’s not easy circling that oval alone. Arielle hopes her story will inspire others like herself to push their physical limits and realize that a wheelchair does not define the athlete. “It’s really helped me a lot dealing with everything, being in a wheelchair. Track is just like a great outlet,” Rausin said.

Arielle’s athletic ability goes beyond the 400-meter track. Sunday, she’ll compete in a half marathon and she’s putting in plenty of miles so that in either 2012 or 2016, you might just see her up against some of the world’s greatest athletes in the Paralympic Games.

By Haley Hinds, WINK News