13-year-old with cerebral palsy wins 1st-ever wrestling match - WKRN News 2

13-year-old with cerebral palsy wins 1st-ever wrestling match

Jared Stevens Jared Stevens
Justin Kievit Justin Kievit

It's been a whirlwind couple of days for 13-year-old Jared Stevens as he participated and won his first wrestling match on November 29 at Sunset Middle School.

Jared, who has cerebral palsy, has been a part of the wrestling team as a coach. He recently told his father Phil Stevens he wanted to participate in a match.

Jared's coach, John Sandella made his wish come true with the help of Freedom Middle School coach Randy Stevens and student wrestler Justin Kievit. 

Sandella and Stevens talked about Jared's opponent before the day of the match.

"[He] asked me if I had a kid who understood, knows what the world is really like and had a big heart and was a nice kid," explained Stevens. "Justin immediately came to my mind as that kid who would be able to wrestle with that kid and do the right thing."

Phil told Nashville's News 2 he proudly watched his son and recorded his debut match with his cell phone. He later uploaded the video to YouTube.

Since then, the one minute and 20 second clip has been viewed more than 218,000 times.

"Why has this made such an impact?" wondered Phil. "It's a couple kids on a wrestling mat in Tennessee."

"I'm getting emails about restoring faith in mankind and in children, in a generation of children," he added.

Jared's first wrestling match was a long time in the making.

The teenager has played several other sports at Sunset Middle School in Williamson County including football, basketball and baseball.  

Phil told Nashville's News 2 it was just recently his son became curious about wrestling.

"Jared said, 'Why we don't try wrestling?' So we started out in assistant coach mode," he explained.

Despite being confined to a wheelchair during most of the day, Jared would get on the mats with his teammates and do as much as he was physically able.

Phil recalled, "He got on the mat during practice and then the next logical question for any boy practicing with the wrestling team is 'Can I get a match?'"

After careful consideration from the coaches and a physical check-up, it was decided Jared's competition wrestling debut would come at the end of November.

"On the day of the match, he was nervous," said Sandella. "I told him this would be a cakewalk, that 'I know you can do this.'"

After being carried to the mat, Jared and Justin shook hands before the match began.

"I felt really good for Jared," Justin said. "Right when the match ended, when the referee slapped the mat, he smiled at me."

Both Phil and Justin , as well as the coaches told Nashville's News 2 they are amazed at how quickly this video gained attention from people all over the country.

"I hope it'll have a lot of impact on people to do the right thing," Justin said, adding, "Sometimes winning always isn't the right thing and isn't the most important thing."

Phil complimented Justin's character and said, "It's a story of courage and character and you look at either one of these kids, Jared or Justin, and see elements of both in them."

As for Jared's future plans, he hopes to try scuba diving.

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