An ordinary visit to the Edmond Farmer’s Market almost seven years ago changed the life of Alexa Halko.
It was on that day that a person with the Greater Oklahoma Disabled Sports Association noticed Alexa’s disability and approached her and her mother, Elesha, and invited them to be a part of the group that promotes athletic opportunities for the physically challenged.
That moment started the then 7-year-old on a journey that in August will include a trip to England to compete in the World Junior Games.
Alexa, 13, who has cerebral palsy, is a wheelchair racer who keeps getting faster.
The Edmond teen set two American wheelchair racing records for people with cerebral palsy in April at the Mt. SAC Relays in California.
“The second she got in a wheelchair (to race) she loved it, and she never looked back,” Elesha Halko said.
During the weekend Endeavor Games in Edmond, Alexa competed in five different races on the Edmond North High School track and also threw the shot put, javelin and discus in the field events.
She won all eight of the track and field events she entered. She also swam and participated in wheelchair basketball during the four days of the Endeavor Games, which concluded Sunday.
“She loves competing,” Elesha said. “She loves racing. She loves going fast. She loves to shine.”
Alexa shines on the track, where she and Shad Isaac of Oklahoma City, a multi-time champion in wheelchair racing, have a friendly rivalry.
“He has been a great inspiration to me, and he’s pushed me to do a lot,” said Alexa, who attended Sequoyah Middle School in Edmond.
The 2016 Paralympics, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is the ultimate goal for Alexa and many of the 350 athletes who competed in the 15th annual Endeavor Games, one of the largest events of its kind in the country.
The 350 athletes this year were the most ever for the games that are organized by the University of Central Oklahoma. Athletes competed in 11 sports over six venues.
“The Endeavor Games are amazing,” Elesha said. “We love everything about it.”
The Halkos moved to Oklahoma in 2006 when Alexa’s father was stationed at Tinker Air Force Base. He is retired and now has a job in Virginia.
Alexa and her mother were supposed to have already joined him, but they postponed their move so Alexa could participate in the Endeavor Games.
“This may be my last one, so I am trying to soak up all of it because we might not be able to come back again, but we are going to try,” Alexa said Saturday after winning her race in the 400.
Elesha is grateful that a stranger approached her that day almost seven years ago at the Farmer’s Market and told her about the Greater Oklahoma Disabled Sports Association (GODSA).
“We really love this community and this association,” Elesha said. “We wanted to stay and continue with everybody, but it didn’t work out. Hopefully, we will find a new place as good as this.”