By Murray Gleffe, Correspondent
ASHWAUBENON- John Marshall is not your typical 8th grade student at Parkview Middle School.
He is in student council, is part of the peer mentor group, and recently joined the basketball team.
John also has autism.
Autism affects nearly 1 in 68 children (1 in 42 boys) nationwide according to autismspeaks.org.
Vanessa Talus, Special Education Teacher at Parkview, has worked with John the past few years.
Talus, “He has come so far in just a short time. I am so proud of him for joining activities this year. He has gotten out of his shell.”
His two close friends Matt Imig and Chris Morgan are his ‘besties’ at school, and Imig a teammate on the basketball squad under Head Coach Kerry Janquart.
They spend time reading with him and help him post up at the center position during practice and games.
John says, “Matt and Chris are really nice around me. They help me get in the right spot on the court. They are really good in sports, too.”
Recently, the basketball team took on Denmark Middle School in a contest held at Parkview Gym on Nov.14.
John got into the game late in the second quarter and got fouled on a shot fired from just inside the three-point line.
His first attempt came up short of the net. However, he was granted one more opportunity.
He received the ball and fired the basketball toward the hoop.
The ball hit nothing but net!
John jumped up to the ceiling with excitement. He pumped his fists and ran back to play defense.
The Jaguar bench and the entire crowd of around 150 people stood up and cheered.
It was a moment I’m sure John, his parents, and those in attendance will never forget.
“I was so excited when that ball went through. I don’t get many chances to score, but I scored one point in that game,” added Marshall.
There is no cure for autism, but John has not let that affect him. His infectious personality and love of sports has brought him into contact with people that care for him.
He has inspired so many lives (including the ones in his own Ashwaubenon community) already in a span of just under fifteen years.
Talus adds, “It was an unreal shot by John. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the place after he made that free throw. It just shows there are good moments out there in sports and we got to witness one this past week.”