In Horacio Gutierrez’s mind he isn’t succeeding at anything — other than being a fun-loving kid.
Diagnosed with cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus and a multitude of other physical conditions since birth, Horacio, now 11, lives life without a care in the world, as it should be with any kid his age. He plays basketball, runs around on the black top at school and loves playing golf with his dad.
Horacio excels in spelling, likes to read and pulls good grades in fifth grade at Medeiros Elementary in Turlock. But it is his attitude and demeanor that makes him a success student and an inspiration to all those around him, including his family.
“When I was pregnant with him I was told that he would probably never walk or talk and since he was born all he has ever done is prove people wrong,” said his mother Estela. “It really makes us (our family) think twice when we complain about little things.”
On Tuesday Gutierrez was honored, along with several other Turlock students, by local politicians and leaders during the “Every Student Succeeding” program held last Wednesday in Modesto. Every Student Succeeding honors students who have overcome and succeeded against challenges, have gone beyond expectations and have won the hearts of their teachers and staff. The honor is given by the Association of School Administrators Stanislaus Charter, the County Office of Education, Mosce Credit Union and Gallo Winery.
While Horacio enjoyed the event, he saw what any kid would see in the event. “It was fun, I got a Starbucks card that I’m going to use later today,” was Horacio’s synopsis of the event. That statement alone tells you of his personality. He didn’t care about the pomp and circumstance of the award; he cared about his Starbucks card.
“He’s a great kid and he doesn’t see any obstacles, he works very hard and never complains. He tries his best even when it hurts and he just never gives up,” said his teacher, Tiffany Ulrich.
Earlier this year Horacio participated in a walk-a-thon and walked more laps than numerous healthy kids.
“Yeah, he didn’t walk until he was 4 or 5 years old, then he started kindergarten at Medeiros and has never looked back. He’s never needed a classroom aide or anyone to help him,” said Estela.
When you hear that Horacio has been struck with multiple physical conditions, it would be easy to imagine his performance would be hindered in the sports he loves, basketball and golf, but they aren’t at all.
When he was being photographed for this story Horacio missed a shot while playing basketball (which he only did about half the time from 12- 15 feet) and the ball bounced toward a group of girls standing off the court. Horacio sprinted after the ball and yelled at the girls to get out of the way. Most people would just yell the customary “help” for a person to grab the ball and throw it back — but not Horacio.
“He’ll play nine holes and walk the whole course with his dad, sometimes they’ll have a cart but sometimes they don’t. He is almost 12 now and I think he’ll keep his attitude on life. It will help keep him resilient as he gets older,” said Estela.
To contact Jonathan McCorkell, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.