His climb up the bleachers wasn't as graceful as the other...

March 08, 1992

His climb up the bleachers wasn't as graceful as the other students who filed inside Severna Park High School's gymnasium last week for the regional basketball playoffs, but like any other task, 17-year-oldWally Truelove managed just fine.

Truelove, a senior at Glen Burnie High School, was born with Tarrs Syndrome, a genetic disorder thatcauses a shortening or contraction of the limbs. His hands are attached to his shoulders, and one leg is longer than the other. But as Glen Burnie Principal Midgie Sledge says, "Wally is not a handicapped teen-ager, he's a teen-ager who happens to have a handicap."

He's been involved with the Glen Burnie sports program since the ninth grade, first as a manager for the wrestling team and later withthe baseball and boys basketball teams. Anyone looking to copy the Gophers' starting lineup, or seeking additional information about the team, is told to go see Wally.

"He's amazing. He does anything we ask him to do, from sweeping the floor to getting out the balls for practice," says Athletic Director Terry Bogle, who also coaches the boys basketball team. "We don't treat it as a handicap."

"I think Wally would feel insulted if you offered him special treatment," says Courtnay Hartman, Truelove's history teacher. "He's very capable of keeping up."

Truelove hopes to attend Towson State University and become a special education teacher.


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