Haitian Athlete Inspires North Texans

Francillon Chery comes to U.S. for life changing surgery

By Randy McIlwain and Kevin Stewart
|  Monday, Jan 16, 2012  |  Updated 12:07 AM CDT
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Haitian athlete comes to Frisco, inspires a community.

Randy McIlwain, Kevin Stewart, NBC 5 News

Haitian athlete comes to Frisco, inspires a community.

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   With a splash of vibrant colors, Francillon Chery paints images of his home country, torn apart by a devastating earthquake two years ago.

 "This is the largest and oldest church in Haiti it's the catholic cathedral which was severely damaged by the earthquake," Chery said with the help of a translator. "I saw many many people that were so sad and in extreme grief because of the loss of life."

"In some ways it's a memorial to those who suffered those who experienced such pain and suffering and to go through this is in many ways testimony to them and their lives."

And his own. Chery understood battered spirits and broken limbs long before the earthquake.

"When he was 10 years old he had some sort of an infection that basically caused his left leg below the knee to stop growing," said Dr. Fred Sorrells. He works with the International Institute of Sport, which is helping rebuild Haiti.

"We founded the Haiti Amputee Soccer Association and as a result of that we were able to get a team together to go to the World Cup of Amputee Soccer which was held in Argentina.  The doctor looked at him and said you know if we amputate the leg and if he's fitted with a prosthesis, he can walk again."

After surgery and weeks of rehabilitation at Baylor Health, Chery made those first steps.

" Actually it's unbelievable, for 30 years I've been unable to walk and all of a sudden I can walk today," Chery said.

But Chery is not finished.  Quinton Stephens is a former para-Olympian with the goal of making Chery a champion.

"A lot of heart, lot of potential and a lot of class for someone who's endured the things he's endured he pushes me just like I'm trying to push him," Stephens said.

What Chery pushes the hardest are the limits of imagination.  Just ask Frisco soccer player and amputee Tyler Tracy.

"He's a great soccer player, I didn't know how good he was going to be but it looks like he's overcome what difficulties he's faced," Tracy said. "It's inspired me cause I know that I can do more than I think I can if i just put my mind to it then I can do it."

Chery went further. "Meeting Tyler was just an incredible experience for me. It's been one of the greatest joys of my life to get to work with him to get to see how he has adapted to the sport to see the potential that he has it's just been marvelous."

Chery continued, "It's been a great joy to give back in small ways as appreciation for what everybody has done for me. When I go back to Haiti I will be telling many many stories about the kindness of the American people."

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