INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — There are just five athletes with hemophilia playing high school sports in Indiana.
The disorder does not let their blood clot very well.
Two of the five are brothers on the Warren Central varsity basketball team and their fight was on full display Friday night. It’s a gesture that brought their father to tears.
Cortland Jackson II and Chandler Jackson have overcome the odds and hope their example helps others. Just a simple injury and bleeding could be a killer for Cortland II or Chandler.
“I’m always on the edge. If something happens, I’m always looking out, making sure I’m OK,” Chandler said.
“When I”m out there playing, obviously it’s in my head,” Cortland II said.
They’ve been in the hospital more than most adults but refuse to live in a bubble.
According to Warren Central, the brothers make up 40% of the known Hoosier high school hemophiliac athletes and the only ones playing basketball.
“Just to have everybody behind us recognizing what we’ve been through, that means a lot,” Cortland II said.
There’s no doubt about that Friday night.
A gym dominated by the black and gold is covered in so much red it almost seems like they’re cheering for the visiting team, the red and black of Fort Wayne Bishop Luers.
But Hemophilia Awareness Night would not be stopped.
“For all that we’ve been through, man, it’s just blessing my heart,” said father Cortland Jackson as he choked up. “To see the support for the boys really means a lot, really means a lot.”
Before the game, there was a short presentation with Hemophilia of Indiana Inc. informing both home and visitors about the disorder. For a nonprofit that always inspires to bring awareness to just one more person, it reach a lot more in just three minutes.
“They said there are 3,700 students here, so that’s awesome,” said Angela Couch, community outreach and programming director for Hemophilia of Indiana.
It’s not easy for Cortland Sr. or his wife to watch their children play. But when doctors told them that developing muscle could help their sons, they didn’t want them to live a life on the sidelines.
It’s not easy though with elbows flying and the occasional tumble.
“You’re sitting there, ‘I hope everything’s OK,’ but it is what it is,” Cortland Sr. said. “You have them take their medicine, you pray and you go.”
Chandler said, “I think it’s really a blessing they let us be who we are and let us play sports and not put us in a bubble.”
There’s no bubble here.
Chandler scored 8 points in the opening few minutes wearing his gold and black No. 34 uniform along with his red shoes.
Cortland II said he hopes their fight inspires others with a similar battle to lace up their own shoes if they want.
“I’m not going to let this disorder stop me from what I’m doing,” he said.
Hemophilia of Indiana Inc. provides medical equipment and financial assistance to families who have plenty of unexpected hospital stays and medical expenses.
Both boys go to the Indiana Hemophilia and Thrombosis Center near St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital. Couch said the facility is No. 1 in the country.
Cortland II and Chandler are both severe hemophiliacs but, with regular infusions of a synthetic clotting factor, have mild cases. Cortland II requires weekly infusions. Chandler needs it once a month.