Green track coach starts GoFundMe for athlete


By Darian Gillette - dgillette@aimmediamidwest.com



Randy Smith and Tate Ratliff pose for a photo at a track meet

Randy Smith and Tate Ratliff pose for a photo at a track meet


Submitted by Randy Smith

Randy Smith and Tate Ratliff at a track meet last spring.


Submitted by Randy Smith

FRANKLIN FURNACE — Green High School Track and Field coach, Randy Smith, has started a GoFundMe for one of his athletes who is wheelchair-bound. The money raised goes toward buying a racing wheelchair for Green Jr. High School athlete Tate Ratliff.

Ratliff has been a wheelchair user his whole life due to a genetic disorder and was able to borrow a racing wheelchair to participate in track and field during his seventh-grade year.

“He has been in a wheelchair his entire life and we were trying to find something for him to do just like everybody else,” said Smith. “This past spring, we decided to try wheelchair racing in track and field. He took to it like a natural. In fact, he did so well he finished fourth in the state of Ohio in the 100-meter dash in the junior high division. It is even more impressive when you realize we didn’t even have a track for him to practice on.”

In the state of Ohio, athletes who are in a wheelchair are allowed to compete in regular track and field races. Green High School is in the process of building a track as a part of its new sports complex. Smith said they have been using the school parking lot to practice in.

“All of our track team practices in the parking lot, but we are building a brand new track at Green,” said Smith. “We have always had to practice in the parking lot and have people stand on the lot to make sure cars weren’t coming so we wouldn’t have any issues.”

The cost of a racing wheelchair and equipment is $3,800. The cost will include the chair, a new helment, special gloves to push the wheels, and a compressor.

“The one he was in last season was a used one we were allowed to borrow,” said Smith. “A new one would be built to his body specifications and allow him to go much faster with more control.”

Smith decided to start a GoFundMe to help raise money to buy Ratliff a racing wheelchair.

“We raised over $2,000 in just over 12 hours,” said Smith. “It’s been phenomenal that we were able to raise money that fast because I honestly thought we might raise a little bit of it and then I might have to go to specific organizations and ask for help.”

After raising $2,000 in a little over 12 hours, Bill and Wendy Ison from Ison Excavating & Contracting LLC offered to cover the rest of the cost.

Ratliff will have the chair for this upcoming track season.

“The chair will actually be built to his size, so we are going to have it just a little bit bigger so he can use it for the rest of his career,” said Smith.

Smith said being able to see Ratliff race was life-changing.

“To see him be able to do what other kids do, the smile on his face, and the reaction of his family, you can’t put a price tag on it and to see him go to state and place fourth where he broke the old state record was wonderful,” said Smith. “With all of the disadvantages he had with the chair and the lack of track, it was phenomenal.”

Smith said Ratliff has a great support system.

“His mother and sister are just marvelous people, he has very loving and supportive grandparents, his dad takes him to the gym to work out to try to keep him in shape, he just has a great support system and a wonderful family,” said Smith.

Despite many challenges, Smith said Ratliff always has a smile on his face.

“He’s a great kid, he’s had a lot of things go against him, and he always smiles, he always works,” said Smith. “I’ve been coaching track for 45 years and it’s one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.”

Randy Smith and Tate Ratliff pose for a photo at a track meet
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2021/12/web1_IMG_7095.jpgRandy Smith and Tate Ratliff pose for a photo at a track meet Submitted by Randy Smith

Randy Smith and Tate Ratliff at a track meet last spring.
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2021/12/web1_IMG_7096.jpgRandy Smith and Tate Ratliff at a track meet last spring. Submitted by Randy Smith

By Darian Gillette

dgillette@aimmediamidwest.com

Reach Darian Gillette at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1931, or by email at dgillette@aimmediamidwest.com.

© 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved

Reach Darian Gillette at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1931, or by email at dgillette@aimmediamidwest.com.

© 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved