WAXHAW, N.C. — Zeke Maddex is just about to finish the mile-long run during his middle school track tryouts. Zeke is dead last, but he's pushing through.
In the stands, his mother, Laurie Maddex, is anxiously recording his run.
"He's in the first heat and he makes it around the first loop," Maddex said. "And then the second and then the third."
Maddex said her son, who has Down syndrome, has never been able to run a full loop without stopping. Let alone three loops.
As he's making his final loop, Maddex pulls out her phone to record the finish. The last of the runners have already crossed the finish line and now it's just Zeke out on the track.
"The last runners passed him," Maddex said, "But then two, three girls make their way back to him and the cheers begin."
Suddenly, all of the kids run over to Zeke and start joining him in his last and final lap.
"You can even see it in the video," Maddex said. "His stride gets better, he gets more confident."
Maddex said when her son entered Cuthbertson Middle School, he lost a lot of his friends because they all went to separate schools.
"Middle school was a big transition for him," Maddex recalled.
Maddex said her son is already a part of a special Olympics team but being in a school team is a new thing for him.
So Zeke went to the voluntary workouts for the school track team. He would go twice a week and according to his mother, would struggle a lot.
"He would walk every 30 seconds and he was deflating," Maddex said. "He was used to being a superstar in his special Olympics team."
But Maddex said the coach and all of the other track mates were extremely supportive.
"Coach was really great and said they had a spot for Zeke already," Maddex said.
While this made Maddex feel better about Zeke trying out for the track team, she also wanted to make sure Zeke earned his spot on the team.
"I want him to win, but I also want him to work for it," Maddex said.
That's why the race on Monday was so special, Maddex said.
"It was amazing. The girls saw that Zeke needed some encouragement and they freely offered it to him," Maddex said. "Give him the opportunity to succeed and then provide him the encouragement and support to do it."
OTHER STORIES ON WCNC
- Sardis Elem. students and their teacher jam out in an after-school rock band
- Concord mother of 5 battles ALS; daughter says 'every day is different'
- Man who began in Little Rock homeless cleanup program promoted to supervisor
- Virginia Beach native, Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle pays adoption fees for shelter dogs