STEVE HANLON: And the Meeks shall inherit the Earth

2011-04-14T22:00:00Z 2012-09-25T23:55:33Z STEVE HANLON: And the Meeks shall inherit the EarthBy Steve Hanlon Prep Beat nwitimes.com
April 14, 2011 10:00 pm  • 

Indianapolis will hold a great event at Warren Central tonight. The Indiana Throwers Showcase will have the top 24 boys and 24 girls in the state who compete in the discus and shot put.

And not one of them has a story even close to that of Rensselaer sophomore Chelsie Meeks. This is a young lady who can teach all of us a thing or two about life.

At the age of 4 she was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. Insulin shots, finger pricks and constant care started her long and bumpy road, filled with more potholes than U.S. 30.

"It's tough enough to give yourself a shot," said Chris Meeks, the Bombers' football coach and Chelsie's father. "But try giving shots to your little girl."

Still, she labored on and started playing volleyball and basketball. But in the fall of 2007 the seventh-grader started feeling serious congestion in her lungs. Pleurisy was diagnosed. The rattling in her chest got no better. Antibiotics didn't work. An X-ray showed it wasn't walking pneumonia.

That's when the family really started to worry. Test results showed that Chelsie had golf-ball sized nodules throughout her lungs and also in her spleen and liver.

She was rushed to Riley Hospital in Indy. After a cat-scan she was moved to oncology. A biopsy was performed.

"I didn't know what oncology was," Chelsie said.

"I can't begin to tell you what that experience was like," Chris Meeks said. "We're sitting in the waiting room expecting to hear about Stage 4 metastasized cancer."

It took some time to find out what the issue was. Histoplasmosis was causing all of the issues. This fungal disease is breathed into the lungs and comes from bird droppings in the soil. It can be fatal if left untreated. The nodules will never go away. So running was almost out. Volleyball and basketball was done.

Did she quit? Did she whine? Not a chance.

Meeks started throwing the discus. A dedicated and tough-minded approach allowed former Rensselaer state champ Julie Koebcke to take notice. So Meeks started training with the 1991 state champ and three-time All-American at Indiana State.

"She's pretty amazing," Koebcke said. "She didn't even know how to hold the discus when I first met her. She's put in a lot of time and training to be awesome. She's overcome so much. She will not quit. She's put her heart and soul into the discus."

So do you want to complain about anything? Work? The wife? The kids? The dog? Really?

Last year Meeks won the sectional throwing 104 feet. And get this: She had mononucleosis.

Meeks' family and faith in God has kept her strong. She's already thrown 127-1 at one meet this spring.

And she also is a manager for her father's top-shelf football program. This kid can do it all and despite the cards dealt, she does it with a smile.

"I keep fighting through it even with my blood-sugar problems," Meeks said. "My parents have helped me to be mentally strong. I guess I've overcome a lot."

Anyone know the definition of "understatement"?

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at steve.hanlon@nwi.com.

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