NY boy honored for inspiring Breaking Barriers essay
NEW YORK -- "It doesn't matter what anybody else says, follow your dreams."
Sage advice, to be sure, especially when you consider where it came from.
Those words were spoken by 2013 Breaking Barriers essay contest grand prize winner Luke Lunday, who will be entering sixth grade in the fall.
Luke has cerebral palsy, and so has sometimes been privy to limiting expectations of what he can and can't do.
He didn't listen.
"Basically, I was told that I really couldn't do that much that everyone else could normally do," Luke said. "But so far, every expectation has been smashed to smithereens."
One thing Luke was told he wouldn't be able to do was ride a bike.
So, every day for two years, Luke's mom, Erin Lunday, took her son to a grassy hill near their home and let him practice -- without training wheels.
Now Luke can ride a bike just like any other kid.
A teacher had Luke's entire class at West Point Middle School in West Point, N.Y., write essays for the contest, but Luke never thought he'd win.
But win he did.
His essay, which detailed learning to ride a bike, as well as his struggles in gym class, was selected by a panel of judges out of a field of thousands.
In addition to a laptop, he won a set of Breaking Barriers T-shirts for his class and a school visit from Sharon Robinson (daughter of Jackie and ambassador to the program). Luke also won a trip to the 2013 All-Star Game.
That's where, prior to being recognized on the field at the Home Run Derby on Monday night, Luke reflected on the experience he had with the Breaking Barriers program.
Was he a baseball fan?
"Not really," Luke admitted, "but I think I'm going to become one."
Meggie Zahneis, winner of the 2011 Breaking Barriers essay contest, earned the job of youth correspondent for MLB.com in the fall of '11. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.