Ten years ago this month, while working as a feature producer at ESPN, I met Leroy Sutton and Dartanyon Crockett -- two Cleveland-area high school wrestlers with physical challenges and traumatic childhoods. Leroy lost his legs at the age of 11 when he was struck by a train; Dartanyon is legally blind.
Dartanyon carried Leroy on and off of every bus, on and off every mat that season. They attended a high school with a graduation rate of less than 40%. And their primary coping mechanism for their disabilities and their dire circumstances was a remarkable friendship.
The one who could not walk, being carried by the one who could not see. My story on their friendship, entitled "Carry On," aired on ESPN
in 2009. Viewers, in response, were inspired to carry Leroy and Dartanyon in return. And as a result of their financial generosity, Leroy and Dartanyon were able to begin college. They seized that opportunity, and every one after it, determined to overcome their childhood odds and write new narratives for lives that began in deep poverty.
Leroy became the first person in his family to earn a high school diploma and then a college degree. Dartanyon became a two-time Paralympic medalist and a world champion in the sport of blind judo. Together we made those initial donations stretch over a decade.
Today, Leroy and Dartanyon need a final push to permanently break their generational cycles of poverty.
As a contract employee in the gaming industry, Leroy lacks the supplemental medical insurance needed to address his chronic phantom limb pain
. And this year, concussions forced Dartanyon out of judo. Dartanyon relied on his nominal quarterly athlete stipend from the U.S. Olympic Committee for his living expenses and medical insurance. Contributions for Dartanyon will provide health insurance for him and help him finish the final three semesters of his sociology degree.
Dartanyon aspires to work as an addiction counselor.
Contributions go to the Carry On Trust, for the sole benefit of Leroy and Dartanyon, and will be shared equally between them.2009 ESPN Feature 2013 ESPN Feature