A Connecticut teen with cerebral palsy has made the varsity baseball team and inspired his entire community.
Seveteen-year-old Mark Selavka was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a “neurological disorder caused by a non-progressive brain injury or malformation that occurs while the child’s brain is under development,” at birth. The disorder severely weakened his left side and caused him to have limited use of his left hand and to walk/run with a limp.
Despite his obstacles and physical setbacks, Mark has never given up and recently made the Manchester High School Indians varsity baseball team. And, no, it wasn’t for pity. He made it on his own skill and merit.
“He’s a special reliever,” Indians’ coach Mike Kakalow said, according to ABC News. “He comes in when we need a fly ball, we need a double play, when we need to get out of an inning.”
“That’s what he does: He comes in and with his off-speed pitches, with his accuracy, and his placement, he gets us outs — gets us outs quick,” the coach added.
Mark said he learned the game as a young child. Despite being taunted by other kids and being called names like “cripple,” he continued to develop a love for the sport with the help and encouragement of his parents, Ann and Mark Sr.
“I used to come home upset and sad and tell my dad and my mom that maybe they’re right — maybe I can’t play baseball. But they changed my whole attitude,” Mark said.
“My dad always used to sit me down and say, ‘You can never say that again. Don’t say I can’t. It’s I can, I can, I can,'” he continued.
Mark’s twin brother, Greg, who also has cerebral palsy, also serves as a major source of motivation. Greg’s case is much more severe and left him confined to a wheelchair, unable to walk or talk. However, that doesn’t stop him from attending all of Mark’s games and cheering him on.
“He’s my No. 1 fan. He also loves baseball. He supports me all the time,” Mark said. “I thought I had challenges in my life, but he’s overcome so much more than I have, so I just really look up to him a lot, for inspiration.”
Needless to say, Mark’s parents are incredibly proud of all that he has accomplished.
“We’re extremely proud of Mark,” Ann said. “Mark has met every challenge that he has ever tried to meet in his entire life — baseball, just growing up. He’s been met with a lot of challenges. He never gave up, never. He’s always tried to do his best.”
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