CLIMAX, Mich. — Rick and Christy Ulsh were floored when their son Eldon told them he wanted to run track his freshman year at Climax-Scotts High School.
“His dad and I both looked at each other and went, ‘What?!’” Christy laughs.
Eldon had never played a sport in his life. So what was the appeal?
“I got to run,” he says. ”I got to meet people from different schools. Had loads of fun with all of my friends for cross-country and track. Just took off from there, I guess.”
That’s an understatement.
In the definite example of natural ability, Eldon has qualified for Michigan’s Class D State meet twice in two seasons of running cross-country.
Now, he’s been selected as one of 300 runners across the nation to represent his country at the Down Under Sports Games in Australia in July. The trip includes a week of sightseeing and competition.
The invite was a shock.
“I was happy as can be!” Eldon says.
“Hysterical,” Christy says. “We didn’t know how to react or respond. I mean, how often do you get a letter saying, ‘We’d like your son to represent the USA?’”
“We’re in a small, small rural town in Michigan,” Rick says. ”You just don’t hear about these things too often.”
Especially considering Eldon’s lack of experience – and his personal struggles. Rick and Christy say their son has suffered through a number of disabilities in his life, including a speech impairment.
This accomplishment is a testament to his determination and perseverance, they say.
But to send Eldon and his coach to the Games would cost around $9,000 – money the family just doesn’t have. So the Ulshs are starting to ask around about setting up fundraisers to send their son on this dream trip.
No matter where he is in the world – Eldon Ulsh has made his impression felt.
“You think highly of your children,” Rick says, ”and then when something like this comes along, it amazes you and takes up your pride that much more.”
The Ulshs are hoping to get the money raised in four months. If they get it all, Eldon and his coach will leave for Australia on July 2.
Donations can be made in Eldon’s name at the Sturgis Bank & Trust in Climax. Funds can also be sent directly to Climax-Scotts High School at 372 South Main Street, Climax, MI 49034.