Maine Wheelchair Athlete Competes In Regional Cross Country Championships

Oct 28, 2019

A Leavitt Area High School sophomore who has been fighting for the right to compete in his wheelchair in the regional cross country championships got his wish on Saturday.

Jonathan Schomaker crossed the finish line under a bright blue sky in Cumberland Saturday morning — and this isn’t the end of his season.

Jonathan Schomaker competes at the regional cross country championship in Cumberland Saturday morning.
Credit Patty Wight / Maine Public

Spectators cheered as Schomaker pumped his wheelchair across the finish line of the hilly two-mile race. His request to compete in the regional championships was initially denied by the Maine Principals Association. But after public backlash, the MPA reversed its decision and created a wheelchair division.

Schomaker says the fight for the right to compete was worth it.

“It was important because A, I want to race. B, it was important to open the door for other wheelchair athletes. And C, my team is like my family,” he says. “Don’t let people underestimate you. Just do it no matter what people think, because in the long run, people might come around and support you at the end.”

Schomaker’s father, Jon, says he’s grateful for the support.

“This was a long time coming, but well worth the effort because now we’ve opened the door for other people to try this and not to have to fight to get it done,” he says.

Jonathan Schomaker will compete in the state championships next weekend.

Originally published Oct. 27, 2018 at 5:23 p.m. ET.