Damon Hodges has always dreamed of playing football, but the odds seemed to be against him.

Hodges, 16, was born with “twisted feet” and had them both amputated when he was 2 years old. Since then, Hodges has used prosthetic legs. However, this did not stop him from pursuing his dream of playing football.

Hodges approached the football coach at his Ohio high school and asked to join the team.

“He said, ‘Coach, I want to play football,’” coach Chet Allen said. “It’s like, ‘Well, you know, we got a lot of hurdles.’ But this dude gets up every day, does everything you ask him to do, shows up.”

The experience has not been easy. In the beginning, Hodges would fall when running, but he always got back up and continued to press on in spite of discouragement.

“A lot of people told me I couldn’t play football,” Hodges said, “but I never listened to anybody and now I’m playing varsity football.”

The Ohio High School Athletic Association has approved Hodges’ prosthetics for the upcoming season.

As he prepares to play, Hodges is sharing a message of perseverance and empowerment to people facing similar challenges.

“Never believe anybody who wants to put you down,” Hodges said. “Do what you want to do: football and any other sport that you need to, if you’re disabled, because anything you put your mind to, you can do it.”

Jowelle M. is a college student interested in sociology, political science, and Spanish. Aside from academics, Jowelle enjoys blogging, reading, music, and spending time with family. She is happiest when she is working with others to improve the community.