A Nashville high school wants you to know there’s still a lot of love in schools as we deal with the grief of Parkland, Florida’s mass school shooting.
Hillsboro High School junior Stephen Mast is working toward his goal to compete in the Special Olympics track and field events in March.
Stephen has Down syndrome, but his quick moves and heart of a lion caught the attention of school coaches.
“He sets his own goal, and he meets it. You can’t ask for nothing like that out of a kid,” said Jerry Vanderpool.
Stephen’s been working out for weeks ahead of the Special Olympics, but he’s inspiring people far beyond his school.
A video of Stephen working out went viral and gained attention from sports stars and millions of others around the world.
Can I get y’all do me a favor and send some words of encouragement to my little buddy Steven from Hillsboro High school as he prepares for the special olympics here in Nashville ! This kid has a heart of a lion ! pic.twitter.com/Ji9eG92H4M
— Ballin (@iam_ballin) February 16, 2018
His coaches are glad everyone gets to see the Stephen they know.
“It’s awesome. It gives me motivation as a coach, and I’m also in the field competing in the long jump so it gives me motivation to hit the track every single day,” said Stephen’s coach, Tyler Anderson.
Beyond the national attention, it’s the support he’s getting at his school that may mean the most.
“It’s real exciting to see the love everyone is giving Stephen because that’s what we did it for. What really makes it special is the kids here. The kids really get behind Stephen,” said Vanderpool.
Stephen loves professional wrestling and considers senior Jacob Frazier his tag team partner.
This week Jacob surprised him with matching wrestling t-shirts and a world championship belt.
“When he first got it, he was going to cry, but he held himself together in front of everybody. But it was cool. It was cool to do something for Steve,” said Frazier.
The school is rallying around Stephen as he works toward his goal, but classmates claim it’s actually Stephen who’s making the biggest difference.