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INCLUSION MATTERS: Extra steps give Cedar Falls teen a chance to race

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CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (KWWL) -- Amanda Weichers and her husband, Andy, never dreamed that sports would be possible for their son, Beau.

“They came to me and said 'What do you think?' And I was like 'Of course!'" Amanda said. "But I didn't think it was a possibility."

Now a track star in his own right and gaining attention online, Beau was diagnosed at just 17 months with a congenital brain abnormality known as Partial Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum (P-ACC), as well as epilepsy and developmental delays. For the most part, he's nonverbal but is very social with family and classmates.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Beau started school at Holmes Jr. High School in Cedar Falls.

"He's in 7th grade this year, so we were transferring from the elementary school to the junior high,” Amanda said. “So, there was some obvious trepidation there about what it was going to be like for him. Are we going to have some kids that are mean?

Now those fears feel unfounded, especially after a heartwarming moment at Beau's first ever track meet, which Amanda documented on TikTok.

During a race just for him, the starter pistol fires and Beau seems hesitant until he's encouraged to run the race by those around him. His mom says the boys involved in the race volunteered, all in the spirit of inclusion.

“These kids were out there and they didn't see any difference with each other. There was no difference,” Amanda said.

She praises the school district for coming to her with a plan to get Beau involved in sports, something he affirmed to them that he wanted. Right now, Beau participates in discus, shotput, and a 50-meter dash.

"It takes time, it takes extra money. It takes adaption, and not every school district is willing to do that," Amanda said.

Amanda knew that another paraeducator would be needed for Beau to be involved with athletics, but school leaders didn't even hesitate, having someone already lined up.

Eric Rosburg, the associated principal at Holmes who also serves at the activities coordinator, was vital in giving Beau the chance to be on the basketball team last fall and the track team this spring.

“Everybody's a teammate. It's just part of our building, part of our culture. It's part of our DNA, that everybody get their shot and can be part of a team," Rosburg said.

Part of that team are Beau's paraeducators. Throughout the school day, he works with Amber Gordon on schoolwork. After school, it's Hannah Becker's job to guide him through athletics.

Having worked with him through this past basketball season, Becker understands how to motivate Beau.

“I would say, 'Buddy! Let's do what the boys are doing!' and that would get him motivated to do the other things, so he's included the whole time," Becker said.

His teammates on the track are the same students he interacts with in and out of both his special needs classroom, as well as integrated classes with his peers.

“His teacher will tell you. He goes out into the hall and there are hundreds of kids walking by giving him a fist bump, saying, 'Good morning, Beau,'" Amanda said. "That's the power of inclusion; not keeping him in one single classroom, it's getting him into all the classrooms.”

Beau's Beautiful Blessings is the non-profit that has been set up by the Weichers family. Their goal is to raise funds and awareness for families with children diagnosed with a disability. Nearly 2 years ago, they raised enough money to open an inclusive playground in Cedar Falls called "Place to Play."

While there aren't any big projects on the horizon, Weichers says they're always raising funds and awareness. For more information, check out their website here.

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Taylor Vessel

Multimedia Reporter

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