There’s a number of important muscles when it comes to competing in athletics, but that hasn’t stopped Caitlyn Morton who has difficulty using many of those muscles. So Morton has demonstrated the most important muscle in sports — and in life — is the heart.
Morton, a 2013 Carson High graduate born with cerebral palsy, has been selected to participate in a national qualifier for the Paralympics to be held next year following the Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. If Morton does well enough at next month’s qualifier, she will be heading to Rio De Janeiro for next year’s Paralympics.
“She’s taught me more in her lifetime than I’ve learned in my entire lifetime,” said Carrie Morton about her 19-year-old daughter.
Caitlyn couldn’t have summed up that lesson any better when she succinctly said she’s learned “to be strong and who you are.”
Morton will compete in the 100 meters in St. Paul, Minn., in the national event for the right to compete at the Paralymics.
She was born with cerebral palsy after suffering a stroke during the fourth month of Carrie’s pregnancy. The diagnosis wasn’t made until Carrie’s seventh month of pregnancy, so there was no doubt she was going to have Caitlyn.
“Of course,” said Carrie about her decision to give birth to Caitlyn.
“Had I knew, I still would have, for sure,” said Carrie about giving birth to Caitlyn even if she found out about the diagnosis during the fourth month of her pregnancy.
“The doctors told us she wouldn’t walk or talk,” Carrie said.
Caitlyn obviously proved that diagnosis wrong, but has been dealing with medical issues all of her life due to her cerebral palsy. The medical issues intensified about the time of her freshman year. She ran for the CHS track team as a freshman, but wasn’t able to run again until her senior year. That’s when the CHS track team gave her a chance to participate in the regular season’s last meet in a gracious gesture.
Another gracious gesture led her to attend William Jessup University, an NAIA school in Rocklin, Calif. Morton’s best friend, Michelle Sandage signed to play soccer at William Jessup. The school also graciously offered Morton a chance to compete for the track team and even offered her a partial track scholarship.
She redshirted last year and competed in track for William Jessup this season. Morton is majoring in psychology with a developmental emphasis and as a way to pay it forward would like to someday work at a Shriner’s Hospital where she has spent much of her time.
Morton’s cerebral palsy essentially restricts the use of her muscles on the right side of her body, especially her right arm and right leg. She has a fused thumb and bent fingers, which prevents her from taking off from a starting block.
She still has difficulty rotating her right shoulder back when she runs. And before heading to William Jessup, Morton had to overcome a major obstacle during her senior year.
Morton went through reconstructive surgery on her right foot, leading her to miss most of the school year during her senior year. “The pain of it was basically unbearable,” said Morton before she had the surgery.
It’s still painful when Morton runs. Morton’s senior project was on what it took for her to run again.
Paralympics representatives saw her run for William Jessup, which led to her being invited to St. Paul for the competition to be held June 19-20. If she qualifies for the Paralympics is to be determined by her time and her classification. She will head to St. Paul about 10 days before the competition to meet with doctors to determine her classification. Morton has a time of 17.8 seconds in the 100 meters.
If Morton doesn’t advance to the Paralympics in St. Paul, there’s going to be other chances. Morton said she obviously wants to qualify for the Paralympics in St. Paul, but would continue to try to qualify if she doesn’t advance.
Before heading to St. Paul, Morton is heading to Rocklin where she’ll train with William Jessup assistant head women’s track coach Veronica Graves.
It will be a busy time for the Mortons as not just one, but two Mortons will be in national competitions next month. Morton’s younger brother, Shane Morton, a CHS sophomore, has qualified for the National Speech and Debate Championships June 14-20 in Dallas. He’ll compete in humorist interpretation.
The website www.gofundme.com/Caitlynsroadtorio has been set up for anyone who wishes to donate to Caitlyn’s trip to St. Paul.
Anyone interested in helping Caitlyn can also call her at 775-220-4574.