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A roundup of news on sporting events, people and places in Southeast Michigan by columnist Jim Evans.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Keeping track of Margaret Beaudoin


Margaret Beaudoin, 11, of Berkley, puts the shot during the National Junior Disability Championships at Morley Field at Saginaw Valley State University. 

The value of sports?
In the best of moments, it can be measured a long way from the headlines.I am not talking signing bonuses, long-term contracts, agents, accountants and mansions so large you need two different return addresses.I am not talking dollar signs.
 I am talking 11-year-old Margaret Beaudoin of Berkley.
Most of us get to use the starter blocks in the delivery room at least.We get to sprint into life. If we’re going to get nicked by fate, it usually comes later on.
Margaret Beaudoin was not afforded even that response to the starter’s gun. She has left hemiplegia, the result of a stroke that occurred in the right side of her brain before she was born. Her vision was impacted. So were some of the motor skills on the left side of her body.
Still, Margaret Beaudoin competed in the National Junior Disability Championships held at Saginaw Valley State University July 17-23. She competed in the Under-14 F36 class. Athletes were placed in divisions determined by their physical abilities.
She had a marvelous meet, finishing first in the javelin; second in the shot put, discus, long jump and 100 dash; and third in the 200.
“I got my personal best in the 100,” said Margaret Beaudoin proudly. An incoming fifth grader at Pattengill Elementary in Berkley, she competed on the Shrine Academy team in the spring.
Track and field events are not her only endeavors in athletics. She also runs cross country, plays soccer and is a cheerleader.She was with the Cheetahs Running Club at Burton Elementary School. The group would gather both during lunchtime and at other times. Margaret Beaudoin and the others would earn tokens for the number of laps finished. She cashed those in for things like a T-shirt, a badge, a bracelet and a key chain.
According to the Children’s Hemiplegia and Stroke Association, hemiplegia in infants and children is a type of cerebral palsy that results from damage to the parts (hemispheres) of the brain that control muscle movements. 
This damage may occur before, during or shortly after birth.The term hemiplegia means that the paralysis is on one vertical half of the body. 
A similar medical term, hemiparesis, means a weakness on one side of the body.  In children with hemiplegia, the paralysis in the body occurs on the side opposite the affected part of the brain.  For example, if the left side of the child's brain is injured, then the paralysis will be on the right side of the child's body.
Margaret Beaudoin qualified for the national meet by her performance at the Thunder in the Valley Games also held at Saginaw Valley in June.
“I would have qualified in the 400 also, but they could not find my time, so I did not make that event,” said Margaret Beaudoin.
She favors the javelin, an event she practiced for by using a broomstick in the playground at Rogers Elementary School near her home. The broomstick was her father’s idea.
Her father, Chris Beaudoin, is in sales at E.A. Graphics in Sterling Heights. The company is the official supplier of the Michigan High School Athletic Association.
Chris and his wife, Christine McNish, have two other daughters; Emma, 12, and four-year-old Elizabeth.
“Margaret is very grounded,” said her father. “An event like the Disability Championships is very important. The growth in her is remarkable. In terms of confidence, it has just been amazing. We found that with quite a few of the competitors, too.“
The other reality is that Margaret got to see there are other kids who have challenges. She made friends with a girl from Chicago and another girl from Louisiana. There was this great camaraderie among everybody.”
Margaret Beaudoin was one of 300 athletes who competed in the National Junior Disability Championships. It was the first time in the event’s 27-year history that it has taken place in Michigan.
She was helped in her training by Wright Wilson, the varsity track and cross country coach at Shrine.
“I got an email from Chris who said they were going to the national championships and wondered if we had any shots or discs they could use to practice with,” said Wilson.
He provided the equipment.Margaret Beaudoin brought the determination and ability.
There’s no doubt the value of sports can be overrated. That certainty is proven anew when a defensive lineman is promised $60 million or a golfer crashes his SUV outside of his home in Florida while being chased by an enraged wife.
Margaret Beaudoin enjoys sports. There is no way to put a price tag on that. No matter how her story began, that’s the end of it.


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