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Peoria, Arizona high school student Caleb Norling didn’t let cerebral palsy get in his way when he scored a run for his school’s special-needs “challenge” baseball game this week.
AZ Central reports that Norling, a senior at Peoria Centennial High School, lived out his lifelong dream on Monday, determined to help his team win. As he leaned on his walker while standing on third base, he looked with anticipation at fellow classmate Tanner Bland , who strikes the ball fiercely at the batter’s plate. Norling took off for home plate while pushing himself on his wheeled-walker.
Caleb Norling has spastic cerebral palsy, which affects the entire right side of his body, making it hard for him to walk on his own. He also has a difficult time holding a bat on his own, so the team decided to put him on third base, where he could try to make it to the home plate.
Caleb said he’s always dreamed of playing baseball, but he wanted to make sure it was done the right way. He didn’t want the game set up to let him get a home run.
“I’ve always dreamed of having an opportunity in a game, and here’s my chance now……..Ever since I was young, I knew I could do what I wanted. I’ve always wanted to be on a team at some level. And here’s my chance. I’m already a senior in high school. So here I am. The days have come.”
Caleb’s father, Troy Norling, an assistant coach for the team, said that his son has never let his disability define him. They decided to place Caleb on third base to ensure the best chances of a win without the game being set up so that his son automatically makes it to home base. Caleb’s dream came true as he crossed the plate, defeating rival team
“As a dad, there are no words. I’m blessed by my son’s attitude about the way he attack life. He just doesn’t have bad days. God has blessed him with an amazing positive attitude and it’s infectious to everyone around him, not only in baseball, but at school and church, everywhere.”
Caleb has served as a batboy for the high school baseball team for the past three years. He’s learned everything about the game and has assisted his team so much that according to his father, he’s loved by all and his team mates were genuinely excited to see him finally make his dreams come true.
“His teammates love him, and, to see their genuine excitement when he scored was simply a confirmation of what we already know about him. He’s a shining light of what can be possible with his strong faith in God and his belief in himself.”
Head coach Mike Oesterle reserved a spot for Caleb on the roster, but cleared with the teen’s doctors and the Arizona Interscholastic Association beforehand. Oesterele stated that the opposing team treated Caleb as any other player, and tried to “get him out.”
“Caleb knows enough about the game. He’s a baseball nut. We tried to figure out how we can get him into the lineup his senior year. So we got him cleared. If they’re going to throw him out, throw him out.”
Caleb, known affectionately as “90-Feet Meat,” continues to assist his team throughout the season.