If at first you don't succeed. …
As a blind pole-vaulter, every attempt for Rains (Emory, Texas)
senior Charlotte Brown is a success.
On Saturday, she accomplished a goal she's been reaching for throughout her high school career — a place on the podium at the Texas State High School Championships in Austin.
Brown cleared 11 feet, 6 inches to take third behind winner Sydney King, an Oklahoma-bound vaulter who cleared 12-3. Brown plans to walk on to the track team at Purdue, where she's earned an academic scholarship and where her brother Lachian is a hurdler. View an Associated Press video report from Brown's performance
She was born with normal vision, but quickly developed cataracts that led to vast complications. Operations and artificial lenses helped until she was 11, but since then her vision has decreased to the point of blindness, though she is not in total darkness.
Brown is obviously a shimmering light of hope for all those fighting some sort of adversity. She placed eighth in the state as a sophomore and fourth as a junior. She's been helped throughout her journey by her service dog Vador. The pup joined Brown on the victory stand.
"It took me three years to get on the podium and I finally did it," she told reporters afterward.
What she told them then was something that should be bronzed to anyone – young or old – going through, well, anything.
"One thing I thought about this story – so to speak – was that it really wasn't about me," she told reporters. "It was about that everybody struggles with something. This just happens to be something that I struggle with. I wouldn't necessarily say it's a big obstacle because there is always a way to overcome something. So if I could send a message to someone, it's that it's not about pole vaulting and it's not about track, it's about finding something that makes you happy despite whatever obstacles are in your way."