Throwing Out Expectations: Kasey's amazing track journey

Published: May. 23, 2018 at 7:35 PM CDT
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Kasey Nickel was not expected to speak, not expected to crawl, not expected to walk. She certainly wasn’t supposed to be an international Paralympic up and comer, setting records in track and field.

“After delivery, and after they diagnosed that she had the stroke, they did an ultrasound and MRI,” Kasey’s mom Terri remembered. “They told us she would be lucky if she would ever speak, walk, crawl… process language.”

Kasey had a stroke when she was born, and her parents soon noticed weakness in her right side. Kasey had cerebral palsy.

But, it was clear early on, Kasey would not be held down by expectations.

“She began talking in full sentences by the time she was a year,” Terri said. “Her occupational therapist, many times, would come out frustrated because they would try and come up with things that she couldn’t do. She would prove them wrong. She could pretty much work around everything that they tried to do. She was very innovative with the use of her good hand.”

“When people think I can’t do something, it brings out a little bit more to show them what I can do,” Kasey said with a slight grin.

That fighting spirit remains with Kasey, now 16 years old, as she explores her new passion. Track and Field.

“I think it’s really brought out my independence and showed a lot of my personality,” Kasey smiled. “I’m a lot happier now.”

“She’s out here working as hard, or harder, than any of the kids we have,” said Andale Track and Field Coach Greg Smarsh. “She’s an inspiration to us.”

Kasey competes in four events for Andale’s JV team… shot put, discus, javelin, and the 100 m dash.

When the school season ends, Kasey turns into a Paralympic star. After a trip to a Paralympic event last summer, her parents quickly learned track and field were more than just a hobby.

Kasey won her three field events at the U.S. Paralympic National Championships last summer, setting records for her age group.

In the fall, she was named a U.S. Paralympic high school All-American.

“Whenever I walk by, they are like ‘Hey look, there is Kasey the Paralympian!’” Kasey beamed.

Kasey will be back at it this summer, with competitions across the U.S, and then in Ireland and Spain as a part of team U.S.A.

“When someone tells you that you can’t do something, just don’t listen. Just put that behind you and continue to do what you do best,” Kasey said.

If you’d like to help with Kasey’s Paralympic journey this summer, the family set up this