FALCONER, N.Y. — Many high school seniors are focused on graduating, summer plans for after graduation and maybe even looking ahead to college in the fall.
Rayven Sample, 17, has a busy few months ahead of him, and if things go the way he hopes, his summer will get even busier... and more exciting.
Sample is a track star at Falconer High School. He's headed to Bucknell University in the fall where he'll compete at the Division I level, but he has his sights set on competing on the world stage — the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo.
Sample was born with arthrogryposis, a condition which causes a lack of muscular growth and development.
His arms and hands are affected, so he doesn't typically use runner blocks to start a race, and he needs to make adjustments in the weight room. Other than that, his coaches don't make any modifications.
"And as a team, we kind of forget that you know that there's anything wrong with, and we treat him the same. I don't modify the workouts at all. He just runs just right with the rest of them," said Nick Spry, Falconer track coach.
Sample says his teammates motivate him to train harder and run faster.
"Some people would argue that we're about the same [talent level], but I always saw my teammates as steps above me. So I was like, 'what can I do to be better?'" Sample said. "If you find yourself around people who are like you, people who are just as motivated, people who want just as much, you'll definitely find yourself succeeding because you'll follow and do great things."
Sample will head to Arizona in April for Paralympic classification where doctors and coaches will determine if he can compete and in which grouping, so he's with athletes of similar abilities.
From there, it will be on to Minnesota for the Paralympic qualifiers.
Hundreds have donated to a GoFundMe page to help him raise money for travel and other expenses, so he can hopefully realize his Paralympic dream.
"Really nothing's a setback. It's all about your mindset," Sample said. "You can either choose to be destroyed by the situations that are put on you, the different conditions put on you, or you can choose to find a better path, a positive path and really just do the most that you're able to."
Sample and his teammates placed fourth at the state tournament last weekend, and they qualified for the New Balance Nationals Indoor, which begin Friday in New York City.