Jack Burleson is a lot of things. He is a person diagnosed with OFD (oral-facial-digital syndrome), he is 18 years-old, he is a high school graduate and maybe most importantly, he is a runner. Recently, ESPN did an E:60 Special on his incredible story as a high school track athlete.
As a child growing up with OFD, which is a rare genetic disorder that causes deformities in the mouth, hands, and face, Jack faced many difficulties. He was born with six fingers on his right hand, a cleft palate and an intellectual inability to think at the level of his peers. He had a great deal to overcome mentally and physically.
The E:60 reporter, Thompson Wright, observed, “The things that bring most people his age together, school, sports, love have always separated him, a boy alone.”
Alex, Jacks’s brother, was also diagnosed with OFD, however his disabilities were much milder. This allowed him to lead a more “normal” high school life, attending regular classes and even joining the track team. Jack’s high school experience took a turn for the better when Alex suggested he join the track team, as well.
While Jack didn’t participate in any of the meets until his senior year, he showed up for practice every, single day, which showed his team mates how dedicated and committed he was to the team. One teammate said Jack “strives for greatness, he pushes himself everyday, and really tried to do his best in everything.”
“Jack’s Heat” is a story of overcoming obstacles and finding love in everything you do. This documentary shows us that despite how hard high school and life can be, it is possible for people, more specifically a team, to come together and show support and acceptance in any given situation. Jake Hardy, Jack’s track coach, said it best, “Every student that comes out to high school is looking for something to be a part of, something that let’s them know that he’s safe. When [Jack] is running, I know that’s a special moment in his life.”
To watch the E:60 documentary on Jack Burleson and the Del Oro High School track team, “Jack’s Heat,” click this link – you will not regret it.