by MICHELLE TREMBLAY | photos by Zeena Gregg Photography

William Cole isn’t just your average 4th grader. Since he was diagnosed with scoliosis at birth, William has had over two-dozen surgeries. At just three years old, he had rods inserted in his back that have had to be changed or adjusted over a dozen times. To some, his condition may sound like an obstacle, but to William – currently 10 years old – it’s something he doesn’t let interfere with his active life.

Awarded the Challenge Award by the Del Mar/Solana Beach Optimist Club and the Award for Inspiration and Courage by the Solana Beach School District, empowered by his peers and family, William has been an inspiration to the community. “I get a lot of help from so many friends. Many people encourage me a lot and help me to be the best I can be,” said William.

William enjoys playing the guitar and piano. He also loves studying social studies at Carmel Creek Elementary School and participating in his local church’s Cub Scout program.

An avid fan of the New York Yankees and Brigham Young University football team, William and his father (to whom he looks up to) watch sports together and plan to visit baseball parks around the nation. His activities also include hiking with his cousins every year in Lake Tahoe and partaking in basketball games during recess. “The boys at school are all great to include me in the games, even though my physical limitations make it hard for me to play at their level,” said William. “Sometimes they try to go easy on me because of my back, but I really just want to do my best to compete the regular way.”

Perhaps William gets his courage from watching Nick Vujicic – someone else facing physical hardships. Vujicic, whom William has watched on YouTube, manages to swim, fish and play soccer despite having no limbs.

When he grows up, William aspires to be a professional basketball player or a pediatric orthopedic surgeon. “Even though I have physical challenges, I never give up,” said William. “I want to try everything, even if it’s hard for me.”

It’s certainly not hard for one to see that this kid is one BIG inspiration.