PORTSMOUTH — March is Disability Awareness Month. In honor of the month, the Portsmouth Daily Times will share stories to bring awareness to the area and local disability services.
Tate Ratliff has used a wheelchair his whole life due to Spastic Paraplegia.
“I got it from my father, so I’ve been in a wheelchair all of my life, but I never let it keep me down and nothing gets in my way,” said Ratliff.
Ratliff is in the eighth grade at Green Local School District and participates in band and track.
“I play electric guitar and I play bass and drums,” said Ratliff. “I would love to be a musician when I grow up. I want to play the guitar.”
Ratliff said he has always wanted to be a musician and just loves music. Ratliff would also love to have a “muscle car” when he is older.
Aside from his passion for music, Ratliff also began running track.
“I love track and I love to inspire people. It’s great,” said Ratliff. “It’s a lot of fun to compete at state and I hope I can get into state again, it’s a lot of fun, and I love seeing kids who are in wheelchairs as well.”
Ratliff placed fourth in the state at last season’s state track meet. He borrowed a racing wheelchair to participate in track and field during his seventh-grade year but will be receiving a new bike custom to his body and will allow him to move a lot faster.
“I’m super excited and this one is a lot better than the last one and I’ve already been enjoying it. I’ve been flying down ramps and it’s been so much fun,” said Ratliff.
Green Track Coach, Randy Smith, started a GoFundMe for a new racing chair for Ratliff and within a few hours, $2,000 was raised.
Outside of school, Ratliff said he loves to fish, is a boy scout, and enjoys camping.
“Last Summer, I went to handicap summer camp and that was so much fun to get away from my sister,” said Ratliff. “I also love camping, my grandparents have a real nice big camper and I love going out with them.”
Adam Sylvia, Tate’s Service and Support Administrator from Scioto DD, said they helped Ratliff get to summer camp.
“Thanks for all the help from Adam and all of you guys,” said Ratliff.
Sylvia said Ratliff is not someone you have to do much for.
“Tate does a lot for his own. The first time I met Tate, he was taking karate,” said Sylvia. “You can look at his disabilities, but wherever I go with my son, I end up seeing Tate there whether it’s karate, the gym, he’s a normal kid, he’s got a great spirit, a great drive, and he wants to inspire other people, that’s what makes him different, not his disability.”
Tate’s mother, Amanda Ratliff, said the amount of support they have received has been overwhelming.
“The support we’ve received from Adam’s office, the community, the school has been great, teachers have been so accommodating, his coaches and band director have been very encouraging to Tate, and as a mother, it’s just wonderful to see how much Tate is loved not just from his family but different organizations and the community,” said Amanda. “I’ve been blessed with the best.”
Amanda said Tate has always been determined.
“He’s never let his disability slow him down or stop him. When he puts his mind to something, he accomplishes it and I am just so proud of him,” said Amanda. “He teaches me as much as I’ve helped him, It’s just a blessing to watch him, see him just grow and he’s just an exceptional young man who wants to inspire others and it makes me so proud.”
Reach Darian Gillette at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1931, or by email at [email protected]
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