Deaf Runner, Blind Runner Set to Compete

Ryan High athletes hope to also run in college

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A group of students with visual or hearing impairments are working together to become successful distance runners. (Published Friday, Oct 26, 2012)

    Two runners competing in this weekend's District 5-5A cross-country meet stand out from the crowd.

    Cameron Jackson, who is deaf, and Nick Barrera, who is legally blind, run for Ryan High School.

    Jackson is among the fastest distance-runners in the nation, completing a 5K in 15:50.

    With the use of hearing aids, he's well aware of his surroundings. But when it's race time, he removes them relying on his coaches.

    "They'll tell me how the places are and if I'm doing good and if someone has come up, you know, trying to sneak up behind me because I can't see them," Jackson said.

    While Jackson can't hear the crowd's thunderous cheers, Barrera said the sounds guide him.

    "It's pretty hard in the morning when we go practice, when we're running in the dark," he said.

    Barrera refused to use a guide rope depending on his teammates.

    "He just looks at me and goes, 'I don't want to use that,' and I was like, 'OK, you don't have to. We'll run next to each other.' We ran four miles," said Jayme Kiraly, one of his coaches.

    Their toughness and determination inspire other students.

    "Nick can't see very well, and Cameron can't hear. They can do it -- why can't we?" said Luis Barraza, a teammate.

    Both Jackson and Barrera hope to run in college.

    "I want to show people that it doesn't matter what type of problem you have or something -- you can accomplish anything," Barrera said.

    Jackson has already received offers from several schools in the Big 12 and the Southeastern Conference.