The saying “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” helps Bene Wilsted, junior, never let her disabilities impede achieving the mental and physical goals she has set for herself. Being diagnosed with spina bifida when she was three years old, taught Wilsted to take on life with a very optimisitc outlook. Wilsted is often described by her family and friends as a well-rounded young lady with a very wise and mature attitude.
“She is a very couragous and a joy to coach,” Joe Cerney, head track coach, said.
The people that are influenced by Wilsted are in awe by her happy presence and light-hearted personality.
“Bene has an open and bright disposition. She’s very friendly and helpful. If she’s happy or sad, you can see it in her face. When she’s happy, she’s very happy. Bene makes friends very easily and doesn’t hide her emotions,” Reidum Lenhart, ERC assistant, said.
Not only has Wilsted faced a life changing experiences through her life but, was also adopted from Belize. She feels fortunate to be living in the United States with her family because of the advantages that are available in the US. Such as higher education and better lifestyles. Her family, all seven of them, enjoy going to the movies together. “I feel my adoption was a blessing in disguise because moving to United States has presented me opportunities that I would have not been given other wise,” Wilsted said.
Wilsted plans to pursue track. After a break from school when she graduates, she plans to go to Arizona State University to be involved in their track program and major in something to do with children. During her break, Wilstead hopes to find a job before she starts school again and wants to work with kids or people with disabilities.
Although she still struggles at times, Wilsted reminds herself about the things she can do and that she has the same amount of dignity as everyone else.
“My hardships have taught me to be a very confident person and I believe that the only people that know who you truly are, are your friends and family, and that’s what truly matters,” Wilsted said.
Being in a wheelchair for as long as she can remember, Wilsted has learned to cope with her disability through sports and helping others. She enjoys playing basketball through the Oregon Disability Sports Program and loves the support and friendship that has developed between her and her teammates. Wilsted also enjoys spending time outdoors either practicing sports or enjoying picnics at parks with her family and friends.
“Shes always out there everyday working to get better,” a teammate said about Wilsted. “She is a person that you can always count on to be there and make you smile.”
Just like the flames on her racing wheelchair, Wilsted burns up the track and the court. Enticed by sports Wilsted says that she has enjoyed playing and competing since sixth grade. At 17, she competed in her first track meet at Tualatin High School this season. She competes in the 100, 200, 300, 400, and 800 and placed fourth in state in the 400. Wilsted also hits the court with her Basketball skills. Her first game earlier this year took place in Oregon City.
“I like it, and it’s exercise,” Wilsted said.
If Wilsted were to give any advice to a person it would be, “Be yourself, don’t let anyone or anything get in your way and do what you want to do.”