To the other side and back

By James Clark Dexter


Who would have imagined that I would be here now. I don’t remember it, but my parents tell me the story of how at 22 months of age I was dead for 11minutes as a result of choking on a hotdog. After spending weeks in intensive care my parents brought me home from the hospital. I was paralyzed, blind and heavily medicated. The doctors said that they could not make any promises about my future. My parents had no idea if I would ever recover or even be able to walk or see again.

The next couple of years I received a lot of physical therapy from Bob Rider’s class called CAPE, cooperative adapted physical education, at FSU, the FSU Aquatics swimming classes, and the Dick Howser Center. To help pay the bills that were not covered by my dad’s health plan a close family friend and one of my father’s running buddies, Jerry Maurey, put on a 5k race to raise money for our family. The head football coach of Florida High at that time, Art Witters, took up contributions at half time of a football game.

As I slowly began to recover my dad took me running with him. At first we only ran one block and back. I gradually worked my running up to a full mile. I competed in one-mile races around town. I never won anything because my older brother, Chris, who my dad nicknamed “Champion”, always won. As a member of Gulf Winds Track Club (GWTC) I was motivated by my brother’s success. I wanted to either beat his times or run side by side with him. When Chris reached 10 years of age he was out of my age group and I was finally able to win the Grand Prix, which is about 10 races that the Club plans each year.

The turning point in my running ability came when I beat my Dad in a two-mile race two years ago. I realized that I had athletic ability and that I could continue to improve even though I am blind in my left eye and have fine-motor-skill problems. I ran cross-country at Swift Creek and Florida High middle schools.

I am now on the Lincoln cross-county team. My personal records (PRs) are: one mile 5:21, 5k 19:36, 3 mile cross-country 18:46, 10K 42:21, and 10 mile 1:57:57. My dad’s famous motivational saying to me is “If you don’t win you don’t get breakfast.” My goal is to beat Superman, Popeye, Batman, aka Tim Simpkins the costume runner. He is one of the fastest runners in town.