PERRY TWP. – There’s a lot of laughter, smiles and smack talk as brothers Alex, Jett and Nash Rohr play a game of hoops with their neighbor Joey Luchitz.
“Look at the sauce on that,” Alex Rohr exclaims as he tosses the ball toward the net.
Alex and Joey are teammates on a fifth-grade travel basketball team that includes classmates from Pfeiffer Intermediate School.
Nash is always in the stands cheering on the team.
This year, the team wanted to do something for one of its biggest fans. When Alex’s team headed to Pennsylvania for a tournament last month, the players sported green socks in support of his younger brother.
‘Awesome’ display of kindness
The 9-year-old has spastic diplegia cerebral palsy. The disorder impacts the third-grader’s gait, his mom Mandy Rohr explained.
According to the Cerebral Palsy Foundation, the disorder is a physical disability that affects movement and posture. It is the most common physical disability in childhood and there is no cure.
The team had planned to wear the socks last year, but COVID delayed their plans, she said.
The support from the youngsters was an “awesome” display of kindness, mom said.
“You always hear the bad, you never hear the good,” Mandy Rohr, a third-grade teacher at Lohr Elementary School, said. “They were so proud to be wearing these socks. These kids did this for something they don’t fully understand but they wanted to support Nash.”
The basketball team has grown to know Nash and more about his cerebral palsy.
Alex said he and his teammates wanted to support Nash by sporting the green socks.
“I felt appreciated that they were supporting me,” Nash said.
Mandy Rohr’s fiancé Joe Moriarty, a teacher at Genoa Elementary School, helped coach Alex’s team.
“Five years ago, the saying ‘It takes a village’ was only a saying and a thought that crossed our minds in meaningless passing,” Moriarty said. “Since Nash’s journey and several other families’ various journeys, we’ve really seen it grow to fruition in the lives of our kids and their peer group. As a parent, we constantly worry about who our children are spending their time with. We’ve been blessed to have such a positive support group for our children and most specifically Nash.”
Moriarty said Nash, who loves to play sports especially basketball, video games and with Nerf guns, is the kind of kid who gets along with everyone and challenges people’s perspectives.
“(He) is always willing to work the hardest to overcome the obstacles that lie in his or the teams’ way,” he said. “Although he doesn’t compete with the team, you better believe he’s the first one to tell them the honest truth of when they got beat or screwed up. You need that guy. We need that guy.”
After bringing home the tourney championship, the team has decided to keep wearing their “lucky” green socks through the rest of the season, which is coming to a close.
They might continue to wear them next season, too.
Perry Local steps up to help
Nash’s family — which includes siblings Alex, Jett and Veda — do their best to make sure everyone understands what cerebral palsy is and its impact, especially during Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month in March.
Perry Local Schools has been supportive of Nash, Mandy Rohr said.
In kindergarten, when Nash endured an invasive surgery that removed nerves to his spine to help with his gait and walk, the community rallied around him, his mom said.
Students at Lohr collected pop can tops for the Ronald McDonald House, a place the family stayed while Nash was recovering at Akron Children’s Hospital after his surgery. On Fridays, Lohr teachers sport green shirts.
The support has snowballed, Mandy Rohr said.
“Every year someone else jumps on. First, it was the school, then my Rodan + Fields team, now the kids,” she said. “The neat thing is to see different parts of the community coming together.”
The mother of four had teamed with another mother of a Perry student with cerebral palsy.
“When I was in fifth grade I didn’t know what cerebral palsy was,” Mandy Rohr said. “But these kids being around Nash are more aware of it. It’s neat to see how much people have learned about something so many people deal with.”
Reach Amy at 330-775-1135 or email@example.com
On Twitter: @aknappINDE