East Texas Teen Clearing Obstacles, Reaching New Heights

13-year-old Madeline Ryder isn't quite five feet tall, and isn't expected to get much taller, yet that hasn't slowed her down; neither has the fact that she was born with one leg shorter than the other, making things we take for granted, like riding a bike, or running, difficult and painful.

"It used to frustrate me when I was littler and people could do the monkey bars or something, but now it doesn't," the TK Gorman 8th grader said. "I'm short and I like it that way."

She also likes helping her schools track team win. After struggling in the hurdles last year, she decided to switch to the high jump. One day later, she took home second place at a track meet. Last week, in the first meet of the new season, she took home top honors.

"It kind of felt like I was born to do this," Ryder said.  "I was naturally able to do this."

"I'm very proud of her and I admire her tenacity, her ability to overcome the obstacles that she faces," said TK Gorman athletic director and middle school girls track coach Mary Schick.  "She doesn't really think anything of it."

"It's just fun being able to do something," Ryder said, "showing people that I have, that even though you're short, you can still do a lot of things."

"She faces everything very positively," Schick said.  "She doesn't make excuses for what she can or cannot do. She approaches everything enthusiastically and wants to put 100% into everything she does, and I think that's just a reflection of the kind of person and athlete that she is."