Ezra The Inspiration: 

Ezra Frech thinks of himself as an athlete, not disabled. Since Ezra was 4 years old, he has spoken at schools, bringing his message that “Being Different is OK” and raising awareness and understanding for the physically challenged.  Ezra’s motto is “You can Dream it, You can Hope for it, or You can Make It Happen.”  Ezra also believes you need to “Focus on What You Have Versus What You Don’t Have" and that you should always "Finish Well."

Ezra’s Recent Athletic Accomplishments:

·       Holds 9 national track & field records in his age (U11) and classification (T42).

·       Starting QB for his school’s flag football team. 

·       Received his blue belt in Karate.

·       Playing club basketball for Sterling Basketball Academy.

Ezra’s Awards and Recognition:

·       Finalist for Sports Illustrated’s SportsKid of the Year (2014).

·       Courage Award, Kobe Basketball Academy (2013)

·       Rising Star Award Recipient, Challenged Athletes Foundation (2009)

Medical Story:

Ezra was born with congenital limb differences, missing his left knee and left fibula, and fingers on his left hand.  At 11 months, when he started to pull himself up to stand, he received his first prosthetic leg.  He quickly learned to walk and has been unstoppable ever since. 

When Ezra was two and a half years-old, he had surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital to remove the lower, non-functioning part of his left leg, and to transplant a toe from the amputated foot to his left hand.  By creating a more streamlined residual limb, Ezra was able to fit better fit in prosthetics.  When he was four years old, he received his first leg with a knee and his first cheetah running leg from Hanger Clinic.   Having a knee allowed Ezra to develop a more normalized gait.  The cheetah leg made it easier for run and play sports with the able-bodied kids.  The toe to hand transplantation was important because it gave him a second finger on his left hand that allows him to hold things.  Ezra had a follow-up hand surgery when he was 5 years old to help improve the functionality of his left hand.  Needless to say, Ezra has battled through hundreds of hours in Occupational and Physical Therapy to improve and optimize the functionality of his left hand.  Click here for an article Ezra’s parents wrote about preparing a young child for surgery (link to ACA Article online).

Sports Story:

Since he could crawl, Ezra has always loved sports.  When he was a 6-8 month old baby, he loved sitting down and passing balls back and forth.  Basketball has been his primary passion since he was a year old.  In fact, he initially learned to count by twos instead of ones by watching the scoreboard during Laker games.  Getting his first basketball hoop at one and a half years of age, Ezra developed excellent shooting form and would constantly work on his game.  He could frequently be seen in the backyard doing laps around the backyard to build endurance, refining spin moves and working on his shot from all spots on the court.  

He has played in basketball leagues since he was four years old.  Ezra has also played baseball, soccer, and flag football.  This fall he was the starting QB for his school’s flag football team and looks forward to competing for his school in basketball and soccer later this year.  He has his blue belt in karate and last year he learned how to skateboard, which is an extremely challenging sport for an above knee amputee.  He has also been surfing a few times (and he loves it!) and he wants to learn to snowboard this winter. 

In the summer of 2013 Ezra began competing in track and field events, including the following events:

·       2013 Endeavor Games in Edmund, OKC

·       2013 The Shoe City Invitational in Cerritos, CA

·       2014 Desert Challenge Games in Mesa, AZ

·       2014 National Junior Disability Championships (NJDC) hosted at the University of Iowa in Ames.

·       2015 Desert Challenge Games in Tempe, AZ

·       2015 Angel City Games at UCLA. 

At each of these events he has set national records, where he now holds 9 national track and field records in the Under 11 T42 classification for 60M, 100M, 200M, 400M, shot put, discus, javelin, high jump, and long jump..  Ezra’s passion for competing in sports was the motivation behind the creation of the Angel City Games, a multi-sport competition for physically disabled children, adults, wounded warriors, and elite athletes.  This will be an annual celebration of adaptive sports held each summer.  

Well Rounded:

Ezra is an extremely well rounded student-athlete.  He gets good grades in school and actively participates in school leadership, theatre, and musicals.  He has learned to play the guitar and is now writing and recording his own music.  Ezra has two awesome younger brothers and a large extended family that supports him to the fullest. 

Team Ezra History:

Since Ezra was 1 year-old, he has been the inspiration behind for Team Ezra, which has raised over $400,0000 for nonprofit organizations that support the physically disabled.  Starting in pre-school, Ezra has spoken at schools, bringing his message that “being different is OK” and raising awareness and understanding for the physically challenged.  Ezra also enjoys mentoring and inspiring younger amputees to be active and live life to the fullest.

When Ezra was born, his family vowed to do everything to give him the same opportunities as able-bodied children and to support disabled causes.  In fact, an LA Times article (link) about a scavenger couple in China who adopted disabled children gave us all the rationale we needed to get involved.  When Ezra was only a few months old, his dad Clayton was researching adaptive surfing programs and found an eager partner and source of inspiration in the Challenged Athletes Foundation.  In fact, CAF invited our family down to their annual triathlon in San Diego to meet Pirata, the world’s top amputee surfer. Pirata was an absolute inspiration to our family, helping spur us to fundraise along with close friend Kirk Waldron the following year. 

Ever since 2006, Team Ezra has rallied up to two dozen athlete-fundraisers for the CAF SDTC triathlon, along with 80-100 supporters who come out to cheer on the athletes and children.   (link to t-shirt photos and team ezra photos from each year?)

Team Ezra has supported the following organizations:

·       Challenged Athletes Foundation – Provides grants to help physically challenged athletes get into the game, whether they need equipment, training, or travel funds. 

·       Shriners Hospital for Children – We helped created Ezra’s Underwater World mural in the Child Amputee Prosthetics Project (CAPP) Clinic.

·       Camp No Limits – Each year we dedicate some of our funds to support CNL, a nationwide network of camps for amputee children.

·       Prosthetic Outreach Foundation – We have raised money to help POF build prosthetic clinics around the world, in areas that no other organizations are willing to go.  Countries like Vietnam, Sierra Leone, and northern Peru.

In addition to fundraising, Team Ezra is actively developing Angel City Sports, a new para-sport organization to provide camps, clinics, and competitions in Southern California.    The inaugural Games are scheduled for June 19-20th, 2015 at UCLA (hyper-link?). 

We speak at schools, write articles/blogs, and generally do whatever we can to help raise awareness for the disabled.  We also believe strongly in the potential of private schools to provide physically disabled children a stronger sense of community, a better partnership with school administration to resolve issues, and an improved life trajectory.  We are working as an outreach partner for the Antonio V. Glassberg Education Foundation, whose mission is to provide scholarships for physically disabled children to attend private schools.  Click here for more information on the foundation.

We are simply a collection of family, friends, and supporters.  We are all connected to each other through Ezra’s story and we are all inspired to support the disabled community in every manner possible.  We are always looking for new friends, relationships, partners, and causes.  The world is not fully accessible, fully understanding, or fully fair.  It is our hope that through our collective efforts, we will help move society forward, inch by inch, differently abled person by differently abled person.