Wasatch High swimmer inspires teammates and community

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SALT LAKE CITY — In life we often find ourselves supporting those we love — our family and friends. But what about complete strangers? One Utah boy is bringing crowds to their feet to cheer for someone they've never even met.

Korey and Kale Walker are father and son. Together they've done many things from working on their Heber City farm to competitions in Salt Lake City, but there’s one thing they can't do on their own, and they're finding support in an unlikely place.

At the Judge Memorial Holiday Classic anyone can see it's all about the competition. Five-hundred fifty high school swimmers compete in the annual event, but only one has a story like this. These are some of the fastest swimmers in the state, and even though Kale Walker never misses a practice, the high school sophomore isn’t breaking any records but he’s shattering expectations.

“He’s always been willing to try anything,” said Korey Walker about his son.

“When I heard about swim tryouts I was like, ‘oh, I’ll do that’,” said Kale.

It's about his persistence and sticking with it. Yeah, that's a powerful thing. This is what he's supposed to be and he's perfect just the way he is.

–Korey Walker

His goals have always been in focus, even though he's never actually seen a swimming pool.

“It’s called Leber's Congenital Amaurosis” said Kale.

Since birth, Kale's world has been shrouded in darkness. When he navigates into the water, the guidance of others acts as his compass with the help of a pole, tennis ball and a small nudge at each lap's end.

“There will be some times when I hit a lane line or a wall,” Kale said. “I have the cuts on my hands to prove it.”

“We’ve always tried to treat Kale just like he’s anybody else because this world doesn’t give any favors and he’s not going to get any in the future,” Korey said.

He is getting something — unconditional support and unexpected friends.

Kale didn't win any races Friday. In fact, long after his competitors touched the wall, Kale was still kicking. Those sitting in the stands could see, though, that it isn’t really about the competition at all.

"It’s about his persistence and sticking with it,” said Korey. "Yeah, that’s a powerful thing. This is what he’s supposed to be and he’s perfect just the way he is."


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