Several weeks ago I was asked to travel out east to Port Jeffereson, NY for Newsday. There I would meet an amazing young man named Naji Nizam at Earl L. Vandermeulen High School. A high school senior with muscular dystrophy who had a dream to play on his school’s football team.
Growing up he was told that he couldn’t participate is certain activities because of his medical condition. The condition weakens a person’s skeletal muscles and could make some physical activities more challenging and potentially dangerous.
Although Naji listened to the doctors and warnings from adults for many years, he found a way to personally convince himself that he could follow his dream to play football. Naji approached his coach and together they found a way to safely build his strength. After a period of time, Naji recieved an OK from his doctor and it was off to the football field for his first practice.
I traveled out east three times to meet with Naji. Remarkably, with each visit Naji was filled with an incredible positive attitude. Speaking with him really struck me. It was also obvious that his persistence resonated with each person I met at the school. It was a true pleasure to meet and document Naji and the folks at the high school in Port Jefferson.