Vaughn shows heart of champion

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by Mason Raven
Eagle Staff

Traditionally and realistically speaking, football and the potentially fatal disease polio do not correlate.

It is just a matter of scientific and realistic fact.

The only thing they have in common are the physical and mental scars left by the possible fatal situation at hand.

Football is meant for the both physically and mentally fit. It has its times of glories and triumphs, but it also has its shortcomings and downfalls. It can be a very rewarding and substantial game, while it can also be very malevolent.

In all of this rashness, there is one common theme: heart. One cannot play without heart. As a matter of fact, one cannot do anything in life without heart.

Heart can be described as a medical term basically meaning someone’s lifeline, or it could be described as someone’s passion for someone or something.

Ultimately, though, freshman Jay Vaughn describes it as overcoming adversity.

Vaughn contracted Poliomyelitis, more commonly known as polio, when he was just four months of age. He was one of 120 people to receive an oral vaccination of the increasingly, less common contracted polio disease.

Out of those 120 people, nine of those contracted the infamous disease, one of whom being Vaughn, which left him paralytic in his left leg.

To put it into perspective, at the time of contracting the disease in 1997, the chances of contracting polio was one in a million people.

In that day alone, however, nine people contracted it.

The cause is believed to be due to the “hot” virus that was apparently too “hot” for the people to receive as a vaccine, which gave people more of a chance to contract the disease.

The “hot” virus that was in the vaccination was actually intended to build up white blood cells and antibodies in order to prevent being able to contract polio.

Initially, Vaughn’s prognosis was mortifying to him and as well as his parents. The doctors told him he had a 95% chance of never walking again.

After the shock of what the doctor had just said subsided, Vaughn began the slow rehabilitation process to gain the strength back in his left leg.

After years of rehabilitation, he gained almost all of his strength back in his left leg enabling him to participate in more activities.

“I almost have all of my strength back in my left leg,” Vaughn said. “I’m lucky.”

Almost immediately after the rehabilitation process concluded, he began playing sports like any other kid.

“I played basketball and baseball from kindergarten until the fourth grade,” Vaughn said. “I also played soccer and golf.”

When he plays sports, however, he is required by physicians to wear a brace over his left leg to protect it from injury.

This year, Vaughn began playing football just like a lot of freshmen do; however, he is just a bit different from everyone else.

He is a giant at sight. He stands at 6’4″, 160 pounds which is practically ideal for his position: defensive end.

“I love being a defensive end,” he said. “My favorite thing at defensive end is hitting the quarterback’s blindside. It is nothing personal; I just love the feeling of the adrenaline rush.”

He claims the only disadvantage he has is he is slower off the line than other players, but he added that he makes up for it with his size.

“I just go out there and do what needs to be done,” he said. “I enjoy playing.”

Although he is on the white team, he says that particular status does not deter him from his ultimate goal: playing varsity football.

“I play every play like it is my last,” Vaughn said. “I never know who may be watching.”

Vaughn has been through the ups and downs, but he is persistent that he has never been anything but happy and thankful.

“I have absolutely no regrets or no feelings of animosity towards anyone,” Vaughn said. “I am lucky where I am at now considering my past.”

Through everything Vaughn has gone through, he has never given up hope or determination. He has remained persistent in his passion for sports, life and the accomplishment for his own personal goals. He truly is an inspiration.

“I live by one philosophy,” Vaughn said. “Make do with what you got. You never know when your time will be up.”

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