NEW WASHINGTON — A year ago ESPN producer Lisa Binns was scanning the Internet for stories and stumbled upon an article by News Journal sports writer Rob McCurdy.
The story, which garnered national attention, featured Lexington cross country runner Sami Stoner, a legally blind junior believed to be the first high school athlete in the state to compete with a guide dog.
“I came across her story and thought, ‘Oh this is amazing.’ We thought it was such a fantastic story,” Binns said.
She wasted no time in contacting the Stoner family, but with the cross country season coming to a close in the near future, they waited until the following year to head to Lexington.
Saturday at the Buckeye Central Invitational an “E:60” camera crew filmed Stoner and Chloe competing. Earlier this year they shot the Lexington Invitational and plan on filming the Ohio Cardinal Conference championships and an assembly recognizing the Minutemen homecoming court, which Stoner is a part of. The “E:60” segment is scheduled to air Tuesday, Oct. 16, at 7 p.m.
“It’s been different,” Stoner said. “I really just try and do my regular routine, but it’s kind of weird having to be wired up. It actually wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I was worried it would fall off (when I was running) but it ended up being fine.”
It’s been a whirlwind of a year for Stoner since her story captivated people across the nation last fall. She inspired others suffering from Stargardt disease, which is a juvenile form of macular degeneration. After running cross country in junior high, her vision began to fade in the eighth grade, but she didn’t want to give up the sport she loved.
Stoner has been interviewed by a number of national media outlets and gives motivational speeches for various luncheons and groups ranging from the Boy Scouts to the Lions Club.
“I was shocked at all the attention I got,” Stoner said. “It was an extremely well written article and I can’t thank him enough for it. That article really sparked everything that has happened in the past year. … It’s been an amazing experience. I got to meet so many people I wouldn’t have gotten to meet if I hadn’t had that opportunity. I never dreamed anything like that would come of it. It really has been a great experience.”
Both Stoner and Chloe were in good spirits when they crossed the finish line Saturday with a time of 32:55.10. At the beginning of the season Chloe was struggling to finish races and was diagnosed with a thyroid issue. She’s since been placed on medications and is happy to be running by Stoner’s side. The pair must wait 20 seconds after the start of a race before they can run for the safety of both the runners and Chloe.
“She’s been on medication about a week now and she laid down once for about 10 seconds then got right back up and finished the race no problem,” Stoner said. “I was very proud of her.”
Northmor’s flamingo collection grows
Football teams have helmet stickers. The Northmor girls cross country team have pink flamingos.
At the beginning of the season the Golden Knights decided each time they won a meet they would decorate their course with a pink flamingo. The lawn decorations are accumulating quickly, with six and counting. Saturday Northmor earned another feathery friend by winning the Buckeye Central Invite with a score of 49 points, followed by Plymouth with 57 points and Lexington with 63 points.
The Golden Knights name each flamingo they earn based off of the first letter in each meet’s name. Last week’s Ontario Invitational flamingo is named Oscar. The birds also alternate from male to female, meaning this week’s addition will be given a girl’s name.
“Hopefully we can keep adding,” Northmor coach Mark Yaussy said. “I’d at least like to add two more. One for conference and one for districts.”
Colonel Crawford won the boys race with 50 points, followed by Bucyrus with 80 points and Highland with 139 points.
“They ran well,” Eagles coach Jody Grove said. “They are working hard and you can see it.”
Ontario’s Brett Cortelletti won the boys race with a time of 17:23.73 and Northmor’s Dani Blum won the girls race with a time of 20:27.50.