Blind, deaf athlete from Pottstown, Pa. is on a journey to the Paralympics 

A local man has set a goal of competing in the Paralympics, and the community has rallied behind him.

TaRhonda Thomas Image
Friday, December 23, 2022
Blind, deaf athlete from Pottstown is on a journey to the Paralympics 
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A local man has set a goal of competing in the Paralympics, and the community has rallied behind him.

POTTSTOWN, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- One Pottstown man is proving that disabilities don't put athletes at a disadvantage. He's set a goal of competing in the Paralympics, and the community has rallied behind him.

That goal, though, requires a lot of work.

"My team is locked in and ready to go," said 24-year-old Marvin Pearson, who hopes to compete in the 100 merger dash in the 2024 Paralympics in Paris.

Pearson is blind, but he wasn't always without sight. His sight loss began when he was in the second grade

"I realized I couldn't see the work in my paperwork," Pearson recalled.

An unexplained retina detachment caused Pearson to slowly lose his sight. Doctors still have no explanation for why it happened.

Pearson's elementary school physical education teacher, William Parks, saw it all unfold and was there to help the newly-blind child.

But he soon found out that the energetic Pearson didn't need much help.

"I asked him what he wanted to do and how he wanted to handle it," he said, "and he said, 'Coach, I'm going to hold on to you. Just go!'"

Being active continued even when Pearson also lost his hearing and received cochlear implants that now help him hear, even though he is deaf.

"Very quickly I realized that he wasn't gonna let it hold him back and I wasn't gonna let it hold him back either," said Parks.

Because, even without sight, Pearson was a gifted athlete in football and track and field. He won a state championship in track and field as captain of the Overbook School for the Blind track team.

He was also a guest on The Ellen Degeneres Show for his accomplishments in football.

Pearson now hopes to accomplish another dream: winning gold for Team USA in the 2024 Summer Paralympics.

"To see this dream come true not only for me but for the other young men and women across the country who feel like they've been doubted and counted out," said Pearson.

But it's not a feat he can train for alone. Marvin needed a guide runner. Thanks when the husband of a former teacher stepped in.

"I'm Marvin's guide runner," said Lewis Corominas, who has won a national championship in track and field and is a former college runner.

"Marvin holds my arm and we run together," he said. "We'll have to train together, match paces, be in step with each other."

Corominas volunteers his time just like Cardwell Wootten, who has coached track stars for 25 years including two blind athletes.

"When you can't see yourself on the ground, it's totally different when you're applying force to the ground," said Wootten, who is the founder and owner of PA United Track and Field. He also runs the Parisi School of Speed in Pottstown.

Wootten joined Pearson's team after seeing the Olympic hopeful's Facebook post and when she talked about having trouble finding a person with whom to train.

"Not feeling like somebody would take the time out their day to work with a - not just an athlete, but a blind athlete," said Pearson of his post.

"I posted (a reply) and said 'I'd be more than willing to be a coach,'" said Wootten.

"People saying 'I'll run with you. I'll step up to the plate," said Pearson of the reply.

People across Pottstown threw in their support, including Coach Parks.

"I'm a USA Weightlifting certified Olympic coach," he said.

Parks is now helping Pearson build his strength as Wooten and Lewis help him build his stride. His hard work is inspired by one of Philadelphia's greatest athletes.

"Jalen Hurts from the Eagles says, '1% better every single day. If you get 1% better every day over the course of 100 days, you're going to be 100% better.' And that's my goal," he said.

Pearson has six to nine months to perfect his speed and beat the competition in qualifiers.

"He's gonna be doing something (training) every day of the week," said Wootten.

But Pearson is up for the challenge because, even without sight, his vision is clear: to be a part of Team USA.

"It's not only the goal, it's what we're gonna succeed at," he said.