Southern Indiana teenager with cerebral palsy targets Archery National Championship in Louisville
Students pulled back the bowstrings and let the arrows fly Friday as the Archery National Championships took place in Louisville, but one special girl was the target of much attention.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Kentucky Exposition Center turned into the largest archery range in the world this week, packed with more than 14,000 kids from across the country who all aimed for national recognition and a shot at advancing to the world championships.
The event is put on by the National Archery in the Schools program. It started in Kentucky and has grown to include 47 states, 11 countries and 2.4 million kids in fourth through 12th grade, according to organizers.
"They shoot 30 scoring arrows, and the best they can do is a 300, " said NASP President Roy Grimes. "They already had to advance to regional tournaments and state tournaments in their state to get here."
One competitor, in particular, is already a winner. Reanna Vaughn was born with cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder which left the 18-year-old Scottsburg High School student legally deaf and impacts her motor skills.
"To see her succeed and to see the light in her eyes and to see that she is doing this by herself ... nobody can do this for her. She has to do it. It's amazing, absolutely amazing, " Vaughn's mother Denise said. "This year has been a really rough year for her, We've been in and out of the hospital four times."
At tournament time, Reanna turns her struggle to walk into a strut, and every bulls-eye she hits breaks down barriers.
"Oh my, we just love this girl to death. All of us do," Scottsburg High School Archery Coach Mark Baldwin said. "Her teammates see her abilities and what she does, and I think it helps them strive to be better."
Vaughn scored 241 at the NASP tournament Friday, 45 points shy of her personal best. She's hoping it will still be enough to help her team advance to the world championships, which will also take place in Louisville next month.
"Eat, sleep, archery, repeat," Reanna said. "(I) find the aiming point, and I pull it back, and I hit the yellow."
Vaughn's mother said there's no special treatment for her special needs. She was cut from the team in seventh grade and refused to give up until she was good enough for nationals.
On this field, Vaughn's abilities outweigh her disabilities, so she can feel "normal," like she's just one of the team.
"The fact that she can do this and compete side-by-side is the hugest thing for her," Denise Vaughn said. "There's not a lot she can do independently."
The NASP Eastern national includes competitors from 35 states. The three-day tournament runs from May 7-10 at the Kentucky Exposition Center.
This year, the organization also hosted a western nationals event in Utah. The best of the best compete in the world championships in Louisville from June 7-9.
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