Meeting Paralympian Blake Leeper was highlight of summer

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Adin Williams moves the ball around as he get ready for a soccer game with Clackamas United.The Paralympic Games just ended in London, and although sixth-grader Adin Williams did not get to attend the event, he will never forget meeting and training with runner Blake Leeper this summer at Wilson High School.

The Paralympic Games is a major international event held on the heels of the Olympics but involving athletes with physical or intellectual disabilities.

“In July, Adin worked with Blake and a few of the Paralympic Games coaches at a track and field clinic put on by Oregon Disability Sports,” noted his mother, Shonna Shroedl.

Leeper, 22, was born without lower legs and has been using a prosthesis since he was a child. This year was the first time he qualified for the Paralympic Games, and he went on to win a silver medal in the 400 meters and a bronze in the 200 meters.

Early years

Adin, 11, attends Cascade Heights Public Charter School in Clackamas, and his mom credits the school and Holly Denman, principal, with giving her son the opportunity to flourish.

Adin had seizures as an infant, and the seizures and the medication caused some brain injuries; he did not speak until he was 3 1/2 years old, Shroedl said.

Because he also has skeletal dysplasia, Adin is a patient at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Portland.

Right before he was scheduled to enter kindergarten, Shroedl was told by counselors at the Clackamas County Education Service District that her son could never be in a regular classroom.

She took exception to this advice and fought to get Adin enrolled at Cascade Heights.

“The ESD wanted to put him in a self-contained classroom with severely disabled students. If that is where he would have been placed, how different his life would have been,” she said.

“Adin has overcome physical disabilities and early setbacks, and although he still struggles, he loves going to school every single day,” Shroedl added, noting that she credits Denman for going the extra mile to help all the students at Cascade Heights.

“We are thankful for the opportunity for him to be in this environment and do well,” she said.


Adin takes a full range of classes at Cascade Heights, including music appreciation and Chinese.

He is a bit nervous, but looking forward to the challenge his Chinese teacher has issued, that the day is coming when the whole class will speak no English but only Mandarin Chinese when they are in her classroom.

Public speaking is mandatory at the school, and Adin said he participated in last year’s USO show, where he performed an airline safety commentary, and represented his class in an all-school spelling bee.

“I placed ninth out of over 200 students,” he noted.

Adin loves sports and plays soccer for Clackamas United, an organization of school teams that feeds into Clackamas High School.

“We compete, and I play forward, and that helps me score,” he said.

He is also an avid snowboarder who relishes the ride up the mountain in the chair lift, and then takes pride in going down the hill fast, doing tricks and taking a few risks.

Adin added, “I like the challenge of going fast.”

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