Athlete proves nothing can stand in her way
By Annalise Knudson
Being diagnosed with a physical disability at a young age has not stopped Caitlin Goerlich from devoting more time and effort to the sports she loves to play. Track and field, table tennis, archery and fencing are just a few of the sports that Goerlich, junior, has been participating in for the past 14 years. Pursuing these sports has taught this Kean University student that she can do anything she sets her mind to.
Goerlich is involved in Children’s Lightning Wheels, an organization sponsored by Children’s Specialty Hospital and part of the Kohl’s Cares program. Children’s Lightning Wheels is a Paralympic Sports Club that provides sports teams for young athletes with disabilities from ages 5 to 22. Goerlich is a part of the organization residing in Mountainside, New Jersey. Being a part of this organization has changed her life forever.
“I had so much energy when I was six years old,” Goerlich said. “My parents didn’t know what to do with me.”
That was when her physical therapist suggested signing Goerlich up to be a part of Children’s Lightning Wheels. The athlete started out with track and field and, as she got older, participated in the other sports they had to offer.
Goerlich’s favorite sports are table tennis and archery. She had never played archery before and probably would not have if she were not required. Having her mother as the assistant coach helped Goerlich pursue her newfound love for archery. The athlete attended the National Junior Disability Championships in Minnesota, scoring 400 points out of the total 720 in archery. She received many awards, including the Spirit of Excellence award in archery. Goerlich has participated in a total of six events across the country.
Goerlich met her best friends through the organization. They are friends and teammates. Being in this organization for most of her life has allowed her to feel connected to both her coaches and teammates.
Goerlich said she would like to continue to play sports after she turns 22 and can no longer be a part of Children’s Lightning Wheels. She hopes that the organization can create adult programs for her and others to participate in. She is not ready to give up her love for sports. She said she would most likely want to coach teams in the future to help other children find a love for sports, even if they are physically disabled. Goerlich wants to prove to others that a disability should not stop you from doing what you love to do.
Goerlich is currently an English writing major hoping to become a novelist or scriptwriter for television shows and films. Playing sports will always be a passion of hers as she continues on her journey through life.
With only two years left in the Children’s Lightning Wheels, Goerlich hopes to continue her love for sports and help others achieve their goals. She is upset she will have to leave the organization but she has plans to stay involved within it and make a difference in the lives of other disabled children.
“I never want it to end,” Goerlich said.