Against the Odds

Local soccer players, Adam Ballou and Jerreme Wade, share their stories of triumph over unique circumstances and heading to London to compete in the Paralympics



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Anne Carey

Adam Ballou

Adam Ballou had to overcome more than the average toddler prior to competing in international soccer competitions. At a ripe 6 months old he had a stroke and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. He is hemiplegic, which means one side—the left side—of his body is affected.

“One of the nurses told my dad I’d be a vegetable and to learn to deal with it— or just to not expect much,” Ballou said. “My dad wouldn’t take no for an answer.”

After a tendon transfer on his left foot, he was able to correct his limp and utilize both feet to play sports. He said he was never treated like he was disabled on or off the field. His athletic family and coaches embraced his weaker side and encouraged him to use both of his feet in sports. He even says that he plays better on his challenged side.

“Proving people wrong is awesome, but now proving myself right is even better. I can do anything that anyone else can do,” he said.

When he’s not training he’s at the Oceanfront or fishing during the summers, but during the school year he’s a full time sophomore studying international affairs at James Madison University.

Just 48 hours after finishing his exams last January, Ballou retreated home to Hampton Roads to begin residency or training at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex. As summer encroached he flew to Chula Vista, California to meet and train with his teammates for his first Paralympics competition.