Conshohocken snowboarder defying the odds after rare heart defect

CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa. (WPVI) -- Snowboarding. It's a unique sport that - at its highest levels -- requires guts the size of Montana.

Thomas Leach is fearless. The Conshohocken 7th grader is heading to Copper Colorado this week to compete in the USASA National Championships.

Watching him is enough to shock even the most faint-of-heart.

"Do you ever get nervous," asks Action News' Jamie Apody.

"Yea, like when you're trying something new. Like when you're trying a new flip or something, and just going upside down and stuff, it's pretty scary," said Leach.

And this kid knows fear. After all, moments after his birth, his family's world was turned upside down.

"Basically the arteries going to my heart were crossed instead of aligned," Leach said.

It's a rare heart defect. Thomas underwent two open heart surgeries within his first year of life.

"We're devastated. Somebody tells you that your perfect baby is turning blue and you have to hook him up to machines, you can't hold him cause of all the wires," said Thomas' mom, Angelica Leach.

He was told he can't ever play contact sports, so this was the perfect fit. Thomas heads to the local mountains on weekends and practices on a homemade rail in between. All the while amazing those who know how far he's come.

"Twelve years ago we didn't know what life would look like for him. Expectations were for a normal life and we're exceeding what a normal life is," says Thomas' dad, Jon Leach.
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