NORMAN — The wheels are never still for long.
They'll pause for few seconds when Jordan Bird rolls his wheelchair up to the line. They'll slow as little brother Jaydan waits for the gun to go off. But they never stop. Team Bird is always moving forward.
The next roll in the lives of Team Bird — that's what they like to call themselves, Oklahoma linebacker Jaydan Bird, his brother Jordan and their mom Kristy — is another roll forward.
Most Saturdays in the fall, Kristy is in the stands cheering on her youngest son. For OU that means making plays at fullback and tackles at linebacker. Most practices for Jaydan are spent running between the offensive and defensive practice fields to work on different packages and schemes.
When he can, Jaydan's older brother Jordan makes the trip to Norman, but he's still in college himself on a full scholarship. Jordan Bird is one of the nation's best athletes in wheelchair track, and he's representing the United States for the first time this week at the 2012 Paralympics in London. He was scheduled to compete in the 800 meters early Wednesday morning, in addition to the 400 and 4x400 relay later in the competition.
Jordan's wheels spun over many bumps along the way to this stop, but it's nothing Team Bird doesn't know how to get through.
They know their wheels need to continue to turn, never stopping, not like they did that February day in 1992.
Twenty years ago, Jaydan and Jordan rode with their father, Jeff, on the way to pick out a Valentine's Day present for their mom when a car crossed the centerline on a highway near Wichita, Kan. According to the Wichita Eagle, Jeff Bird was ejected from the automobile and died on impact. Jaydan, 1, was sitting in the back seat and broke his collarbone. Two-and-a-half year-old Jordan, who was sitting in the front, suffered two microscopic bruises to his spine that left him paralyzed from the waist down.
Kristy knew that day would change their life. She didn't have a college degree, and the road ahead was one of struggle, but life would not stop. The Birds would not live in that tragic moment. They would take what they were given and move forward.
The wheels kept turning.
By the time Jordan was 5, he had so much energy, Kristy knew she needed to enroll him into a wheelchair sport. Jordan excelled at track. He loved to go fast. Jaydan had a talent in football. Together, the two brothers and their mother pushed on.
They've never stopped. That's not an option for Team Bird.
“She just told us it was a part of life, that we couldn't dwell on the past,” Jaydan said. “Sometimes life throws you hardballs and you have to move on. For the three of us, we just had to come closer as a family.”
Even four years ago, when Jordan could have given up after a wreck during his qualifications for the Beijing Paralympics and some politics left him off the U.S. roster, America's best wheelchair track athlete fought back.
Wednesday morning, Team Bird planned to slip on their blue T-shirts, with a photo of Jordan racing and the words “U.S. Paralympics 2012” and “Go Jordan” on the front, and cheer from the stands in London and a home in Norman.
Kristy only has one wish for her sons' futures — to be college graduates.
“I see that happening, and if they have dreams of going on, I want them to fulfill those dreams,” Kristy said. “I see them getting whatever they want because they're determined and good kids.”
A little over 20 years ago, Jaydan and Jordan Bird took a drive with their father that could have left them bitter and feeling sorry for themselves, but that's not the rule for Team Bird. The rule is never look back.
And the wheels keep turning, moving them forward.