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Blind swimmer Brad Snyder going for gold at the Paralympics

Olympic swimming looks like incredibly difficult work. In addition to trying to cruise through the water at amazing speeds, swimmers have to somehow figure out a way to see what they’re doing. Four years ago at the Beijing Olympics, Michael Phelps spoke about how challenging it was to win one of his gold medals after his goggles filled with water the second he dove into the pool. What is an already tall task becomes seemingly impossible without vision, which is what makes the story of Navy Lt. Brad Snyder so amazing.

Snyder lost his eyesight a year ago while serving in Afghanistan after stepping on on a hidden bomb. According to NBCNews.com, he initially thought he had blood or dirt in his eyes before his worst fears were realized. On Friday night, Snyder will get back into the pool in search of a gold medal in London — one that would bring his total up to three medals at the Paralympics.

“Yes, I’m really competitive,” Snyder when talking about his desire to win. “The idea that there shouldn’t be anything in the way of barriers presented to you that slow you down. Yeah, (stuff) happens. But I hope this shows the value of attitude, of making a decision to not look back. I made that decision. From that point, it was all just about figuring it out and moving forward.”

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Young boy sends Canadian relay team letter, medal after they were disqualified

A young Newfoundland boy sent a sweet letter of support and medal to his country’s relay runners after they were disqualified from a race at the London Olympics.

Canada’s 4×100 men’s relay team finished third at the London Games, but they were disqualified and missed out on a bronze medal after judges noticed that sprinter Jared Connaughton, who was running the third leg, stepped on the lane line.

10-year-old Elijah Porter felt badly for the team, so he sent them a letter and Timbits medal he earned by participating in a Canadian youth sports program, to lift their spirits.

His letter says:

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Marine’s father surprises him by catching first pitch on Father’s Day (Video)

Many people take Father’s Day for granted and have a tendency to forget about the men and women who are serving our country and can’t spend Father’s Day with their dads. For the past eight years, U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Christopher Farias has fallen into that category. As his father, Lawrence Farias, revealed, Christopher has not been able to spend a Father’s Day with his father in eight years because of deployment or other military responsibilities. With the help of the Dodgers, that changed over the weeekend.

As you can see from the video above that MLB.com’s Cut 4 shared with us, Lawrence surprised Christopher by wearing a catcher’s mask and being on the receiving end of the ceremonial first pitch. Like the military man who was surprised his daughters a few weeks ago at the Twins game, we can only imagine how the two of them must have felt.

High school runner Meghan Vogel helps carry injured opponent across finish line (Video)

There was some outstanding sportsmanship displayed at the Ohio state track meet last Saturday.

Meghan Vogel, a junior at West Liberty-Salem High School in Ohio, won the state’s Division III 1,600 meter race, but she gained more attention for a race in which she finished last.

Vogel was running the 3,200 meter race and about 50 meters from the finish line when she saw Arden McMath, a sophomore from Arlington High School, collapse. Instead of passing her, Vogel stopped to carry her competitor across the finish line.

Race rules say Vogel should have been automatically disqualified for helping another runner, but the Springfield News-Sun says meet management took no action. They gave McMath 14th place and a finishing time of 12:29.90, and Vogel 15th in 12:30.24. Vogel made sure McMath crossed the finish line first because she had been ahead of her.

“Helping her across the finish line was a lot more satisfying than winning the state championship,” Vogel told the News-Sun.

“What a selfless act,” said Arlington coach Paul Hunter. “She could have just gone around Arden. But she chose to help. I’ve never seen that at a state meet. That’s real sportsmanship.”

We’ve seen other outstanding acts of sportsmanship in track and cross country before, and this ranks right up there. It’s great to have a heartwarming story like this to balance out all the negative ones we see in high school athletics.

Well done Meghan, well done.

H/T Richard Deitsch

Master Sgt. Robert Buresh surprises his daughters at the Twins game (Video)

Regardless of the number of times we see this same move executed, it will never get old. We may get tired of ceremonial first pitches or quirky mascot antics before a game begins, but a solider returning home from overseas to surprise his family is always fun to watch. As you can see from the video above, Master Sgt. Robert Buresh returned home from Afghanistan over Memorial Day Weekend and surprised his two daughters prior to the Twins game against the Tigers.

As expected, the girls were thrilled. Kudos to the Twins for arranging it and allowing the Buresh family to enjoy a Memorial Day that they’ll never forget.

Mikey Stolzenberg is a 12-year-old lacrosse player without arms or legs (Video)

Mikey Stolzenberg is a 12-year-old boy from Florida who was born seemingly healthy and with all his limbs in tact. He remained that way until a freak infection cost him his arms and legs when he was eight years old. Stolzenberg scratched a mosquito bite when he was playing football, and that led to a bacterial infection called Chromobacterium Violaceum that left his body in septic shock two days later. An immune deficiency called Chronic Granulomatous Disease is what left him susceptible to the infection. In order to save his life, all of Stolzenberg’s limbs had to be amputated.

“I was grateful I still had Michael,” Michael’s mother Laura Stolzenberg told Lacrosse Magazine. “We had him, now we just had to rebuild him. …

“Michael embraces his difference. We told him, ‘Your hands and feet do not define who you are.'”

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Trent Richardson taking leukemia patient Courtney Alivis to her senior prom

Courntey Alvis had to a face a life-changing moment at the age of 16 when she was diagnosed with leukemia. Because of her weakened immune system, Alvis was told she basically couldn’t leave her house — no driving, no going to the mall, no seeing a movie or taking part in anything that a healthy high schooler would be off enjoying.

Alvis was told that she could attend her junior prom last year if she took the necessary precautions. Doctors told her she would have had to wear rubber gloves and a mask and not touch anybody. Unsurprisingly, she decided to pass. After a year of treatment and fighting the disease, Courtney is now determined to attend her senior prom and end high school on a high note. The problem was she didn’t have a date.

With the help of her uncle, Alvis was put in touch with Alabama star Trent Richardson. The 2011 Heisman trophy finalist is solving the no date problem.

“I’m very excited but I’m also really nervous,” Alvis said according to WSFA. “I watch Trent all the time on TV and he’s going to be come with me.”

Good on you, Trent. It’s been said that attitude and demeanor are some of the most important factors in being able to fight off cancer. Here’s hoping Richardson’s gesture will help Courtney Alvis on her road to recovery.

H/T Eye on College Football
Photo credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE