Shad Isaac has faced challenges his entire life. Now he is ready for a new one.
A multi-time champion in wheelchair racing at the Endeavor Games, Isaac now wants to win on water the way he won on the track.
“I mastered the track and now I want to see if I can master this, which I know I can,” Isaac said.
Isaac, 22, of Oklahoma City is racing in his first paracanoe event at the Canoe/Kayak Flatwater Sprint Team Trials, which conclude Saturday on the Oklahoma River.
Isaac was born with spina bifida, the result of a birth mother who abused drugs and alcohol.
He came to the home of foster parents Linda and Dell Isaac at 8 months old weighing just 4½ pounds.
The Isaacs have fostered more children than they remember, easily more than 150, Linda Isaac said.
They adopted five of their foster kids, including Shad, who is their youngest. When Shad was a baby, doctors gave the Isaacs little hope that he would lead a productive life.
“They really thought he would be a vegetable,” Linda Issac said. “He's done everything everybody said he would never be able to do.
“I even had a doctor tell me, ‘Isn't it a shame that he lived.' I just said, ‘Don't ever give me that doctor again.' Look at him now. He's got some problems, but he just works through him.”
Spina bifida left Isaac with little use of his legs, chronic muscle weakness and only one kidney. Sports has made the biggest difference in his life.
“I can't even tell you how much he has overcome,” Linda Isaac said. “If it weren't for Greater Oklahoma Disabled Sports (Association), I really don't think he would have come as far as he has.
“The sports have been his saving grace. It's kept him healthy. They have built up his self-esteem. He thinks he can do anything.”
Even be the fastest on the water. He has only been training with the OKC RIVERSPORT junior sprint team for a month and is competing in the Canoe/Kayak Flatwater Sprint Team Trials against seasoned paracanoe racers.
Unlike on the track, Isaac knows he may be seeing competitors in front of him for a change. He finished third in his only race Friday and has two more races Saturday.
“He told me, ‘Mom, I have only done this a month so I am probably going to be at the back of the pack, but they better watch out for me next year,'” Linda Isaac said. “That's the attitude he has.”