EDMOND — Brian and Christi Gibson sat in a doctor's office shortly after learning of their pregnancy. That's when they found out their baby was paralyzed, at 18 weeks.
Now 3 years old, Ryder Gibson wouldn't let you know he was paralyzed. In this weekend's Endeavor Games in Edmond, Ryder is scheduled to compete in five different races as well as three field events.
Last summer, Ryder competed in his first Endeavor Games. Brian Gibson said they just heard about the event and signed up their son not knowing what it was all about. Four 5Ks and a handful of one- and two-mile fun runs later, Ryder is hooked on track and field. Ryder completed the 20-meter and 60-meter races in the future's division last year as well as competing in the softball throw.
“He loves training. He loves doing that stuff, racing, competing and practicing,” Brian Gibson said. Ryder took to competition naturally, something he got from his dad, who raced motocross before Ryder was born. Brian said Ryder understands the concept of winning and losing and the first thing he asks when he crosses the finish line is where his medal is.
Whether it's 20, 60, 100 or 200 meters, Ryder is going to compete for his medal, racing to raise awareness for Spina Bifida. The congenital defect of the spine in which part of the spinal cord and its meninges are exposed through a gap in the backbone means nothing to the 3-year old from Edmond.
Ryder will compete in back-to-back to back events on Saturday morning at Edmond North High School, beginning at 8 a.m. Regardless of how he finishes during the day, he'll go home with the same smile he came with. Brian said win or lose, medal or not, when the Gibson family gets in the truck to go home the only thing he cares about is when he gets to do it again.
“Really excited,” Ryder said about this weekend's games. “Racing,” he said, was his favorite part.
Ultimately, Ryder wants to be a Paralympics athlete. Brian said they wouldn't push him to work toward that goal if he would ever stop pushing himself.
“He learns a lot by watching. We watch videos on the computer of kids like him that are doing this. He just likes to get out there competing with athletes like him. There is no reason this will hold him back.”
The Endeavor Games will be held in Edmond at the University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond North High School and Lake Arcadia. The Games run Thursday through Sunday.