A school from Bon Accord, Alta. recently competed in the Running Room Indoor Games, but it wasn’t a race record that put the school on the map.
Lilian Schick School had a team competing in the 8 x 200-metre relay. Grade 5 student Lucas Sopel was chosen for the last leg of the relay. Lucas has Cerebral Palsy and uses a walker.
As he began his lap, the crowd at the University of Alberta Butterdome started to cheer, but at the halfway mark, his teammates gathered alongside him and ran the rest of the lap with him.
When he crossed the finish line, the crowd erupted in applause.
“I can’t think of a team since I’ve been at those events who had a more special moment or time than that group of boys,” track coach Clarke Ball said. “They didn’t have to win the event, but no team could beat an experience like that.”
He said teamwork is a big focus for the team.
“If you saw the video, it was a team running together, supporting each other. Just like the other kids in the stands would cheer each other on, that team worked together to get to the finish line,” Ball said.
Lucas was one of the 60 students who tried out for the Lilian Schick track and field team. Ball says he’s been training hard and practising every day with the team.
“It’s just the way he is,” Lucas’ mom Katrina Sopel said. “He’s always been a go-getter. Even when he was younger and he couldn’t walk, he’d bring one of his parents or anyone close and he’d say, ‘I want to do this’ and we’d go with him and do it.”
“He’s always been a go-getter and doesn’t see himself any different.”
The race was recorded and the video posted on the school’s Facebook page Friday.
The post included a message: “an inspiring moment for our Boys C Running Team during the 8 x 200 metre relay. Lilian Schick School is very proud of our students that participated… The spirit and determination shown by our students inspire us all!”
Watch below: An inspiring moment was recently caught on camera at a U of A track event when one of the participants ran with a walker. Emily Mertz explains.
Lucas’ teammates said they just wanted to cheer him on and have fun.
“I think how Lucas ran is showing people that just because he has problems walking doesn’t mean he can’t do what everybody else can,” said one young athlete.
Coach Ball says he expected the team to respond they way they did, but the reaction from the crowd was quite special.
“We knew there would be a really positive one, but to hear the roar the way it was, the emotions of the whole building – seeing strangers in tears – it was more than we expected. It was pretty overwhelming.”
It was an emotional moment for Lucas’ mom as well.
“It was wonderful seeing him and it was wonderful his teammates going around and supporting him,” Katrina said. “As he went around the corners, the crowd would just clap and as he got towards the finish line, it just got louder and louder. I was taken aback, just wow.”
Since the video was posted online, the support has continued to roll in.
“We’ve had wonderful comments and just people who are inspired for their kids to do things and join in things,” Katrina said. “We’ve had people across Canada messaging me … it’s just spreading. it’s a little overwhelming seeing this happen about someone who just does something he normally would do.”
Lucas says he didn’t really notice all the fuss. He was focused on the track and the race itself, but one thing really stands out in his mind.
“It got loud in there,” he said with a smile.
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