CRANFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – A freshman at a New Jersey high school is inspiring others for much more than her skill in sports.
She’s her school’s most decorated athlete despite being diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
Catarina Guimaraes works really hard out on the track to keep up with her fellow Cranford High School teammates. It takes her a bit longer to warm up and stretch out her muscles.
“I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. It’s a neurological disorder effects the way my brain communicates with certain body parts,” Guimaraes explained.
The 15-year-old hasn’t let that stop her though.
“The odds sometimes just gotta be defied.”
Guimaraes isn’t just defying odds, she’s shattering them. She’s a second-degree black belt in taekwondo and just got back from Ireland where she competed on Team USA for athletes with cerebral palsy.
If that’s not impressive enough, since 2016 the teen has held national records for every track and field event available for adaptive athletes – that’s nine events in total.
On top of that, she’s fluent in Portuguese.
“We challenge her to take down barriers. If something in your way work around it,” her father, John Guimaraes said.
Catarina’s coaches say other athletes emulate her work ethic which is: no short cuts.
“She doesn’t want to be treated any differently… She’s the first one at practice, she’s the last one to leave,” her coach, John Schiano said.
Her dad says getting her involved in sports was the number one goal. Inactivity creates more problems for those with CP.
“In order for a person affected by CP to have a longer more normal life they need to be working out, they need that physical activity,” the athlete’s father added.
Catarina says if you stay positive anything is achievable.