As Mario League-Stein does pushups, flips tires, and sprints down the field with his teammates during football conditioning, he moves like lightning. Nicknamed "Mr. Inspiration" by teachers and students at Blessed Sacrament School, 13-year-old Mario was born with amniotic band syndrome. It left him missing his right leg as well as his right arm just below the elbow.
He has undergone multiple major surgeries since he was 2, but that hasn't held him back, especially on the football field. "When I set my mind to something, I don't let anyone tell me I can't," he said.
His mother, Lin League, agreed that he is dedicated and persistent. "We have always encouraged Mario, telling him he can accomplish anything he wants," she said.
An honor student and head acolyte at Blessed Sacrament, Mario also plays basketball and soccer.
"Sports relax me and make me feel like I'm a part of something," he said.
He wears a prosthetic leg, which is in need of replacement. When parents and community members at Blessed Sacrament found out, they organized a fund-raiser to help.
"When we found out about the cost of Mario's leg, I was sort of in shock," his mother said. "I felt at that time, there was no way we could ever raise enough to buy him a spare." A flyer for the fund-raiser states that prosthetic limbs can cost as much as some motor vehicles. "Unfortunately, his leg is about as important for him as a car is for us," Ms. League said.
The community came together Saturday at an event featuring music, a pig roast, a bean-bag-toss tournament, and a silent auction to raise money for Mario's leg.
On the field, Mario doesn't seem worried or intimidated. "I look up to my football coaches and basketball coaches," he said, citing coaches Al and Alan Campos, George Murnen, Doug Chamberlain, and Chris Callaghan.
Kimberly Kurek, who helped coordinate public relations for the fund-raiser, said Mario is passionate and dedicated to accomplishing his goals. "Mario is an incredible kid," she said.
For further information, visit makeithappenformario.com.