Cade Henderson did not play a play for the freshman football team in the fall, but he was a very valuable and inspirational member of the team.
“Cade is an amazing individual,” said Ramona High’s freshman football coach Lt. Cmdr Mike Ernst, who also has Cade in two classes. “He is a very positive person. He inspires those around him to do their best. He has some amazing stories and he has a great sense of humor.”
Cade was the team manager for the Bullpups. His duties included writing down plays, taping the games, equipment repair and helping the hydration crew. He attended every practice and every game.
Cade was born with spina bifida.
“I was born with a bubble on my spine,” he explained, understating the developmental birth defect.
Cade also underplays the 36 operations that he has had.
“I have had operations on my head, back, feet and legs,” he said.
Cade moved to Ramona from Oklahoma when he was in middle school. He had helped out the Waurika Oklahoma Junior High football team for three years. He picked up several nicknames in Oklahoma that followed him to Ramona.
“One of my nicknames was crazy legs,” he said. “Another was decaf, because I do not have calf muscles.”
When he arrived at RHS, he asked Ernst if he could help the frosh team, and Ernst immediately gave him a job.
“He was a very reliable manager,” said Ernst, who also teaches Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps classes. “He not only did his job, he inspired the rest of the team to do their jobs. He is a positive force.”
Cade is undecided on his future. He originally wanted to be a football coach, but he is now leaning toward a career as an air traffic controller. He got the idea from Ernst’s NJROTC class.
“I will be moving to Oklahoma and Oklahoma City College has an excellent program for air traffic controllers,” he explained.
When asked what he considered the best part of his experience in Ramona, Cade answered, “The people. I have met several new friends and everybody has been very nice to me.”
Cade especially had praise for Hunter McHargue, the starting quarterback on the frosh team. Cade said that Hunter has been a great friend.
Cade said Ernst is a great teacher and coach, and he also has praise for his health teacher, Larry Bringham, and his math teacher, Steve Emery.
“Both are good teachers and are very interesting,” he said. Both teachers have praise for Cade, too.
Even though it took 36 operations for Cade to be able to walk, he has dreams of playing football.
“My mom would never sign the papers, but I still dream about playing,” he said. “I plan on going out for track and field and competing in the shot put and the discus.”
Cade also joked about running the 400 meters. If hard work and desire count, he may not be joking.
Cade learned to walk at the age of 2.
“My parents would pin money to the door and I would have to walk to the door and get it,” he said. “If I didn’t make it, I would have to start over. It started out a foot from the door and then as I got stronger the distance was increased. I made a lot of money learning how to walk.”
Cade has learned from his disability and from his experience as a manager.
“Never give up,” he said. “Work hard and get the job done. Some said that I would never walk. I just had to work harder than most, but I can walk.”
Cade does not worry about what he can’t do. He works on improving what he can do. He can walk and he inspires those who can run and those who write.
Cade collected his letter for football last week.
He earned it.