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Berea figure skater in adaptive league inspires on and off the ice

Marcus Thomas is a great skater. But, it wasn't an easy road to the ice.

BROOKLYN, Ohio — It's a Saturday evening and 16-year-old Marcus Thomas, a sophomore at Berea Midpark High School, is getting ready for the big show.

He's prepping for five routines at the Brooklyn Recreation Center, as part of a performance by the Brooklyn Blades on Ice Skating Ensemble.

Skating, has been a major part of his life for several years now.

"There's shows, competitions, and then there's free skating and basic skating," he told us. 

There's a lot to memorize, and that's difficult for him. Because when he was in middle school, the unthinkable happened.

"When seventh grade came, one day he was at school and he came home and he's like angry and mad and just really different, and he's like, 'I can't remember anything,'" Marcus's mom, April, said.

Everything he'd learned up to that point, was gone in an instant.

"Mom, I can't do it. I can't remember how to spell my name," April remembered Marcus telling her. "They ran all sorts of tests. It came up that he had some kind of genetic thing that would preclude him to having a disability. But nothing explained why he lost what he lost."

With an unnamed cognitive delay, Marcus had no choice but to forge ahead, having to relearn to read in 7th grade. It was an indescribable challenge but Marcus forged ahead, eventually finding skating.

"He got to be the runner at the high school competition for one year and meet all the high ranking judges and officials," April said. "He was feeling like he really fit in for the first time in a long time."

That boost was enough to do some research on programs. The Thomas family found funding through the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities.

"So all his learn-to-skate classes, performance ensemble, and stuff like that, are covered by that resource grant," April said.

The funding helps with Marcus's adaptive league, the Brooklyn Blades.

"It is an escape for him. It's also an energy release for him. The pent up anger or anxiety or whatever ... he'll just skate it off," Jim Thomas, Marcus's dad said.

It's helped him prepare for performances like the one he's about to do for Brooklyn Blades. He's performing to an Adam Sandler song. It's silly, but requires fast movements.

The rec center is packed and Marcus is just waiting for his turn.

He hits the ice ... it's a dazzling show! Marcus is doing twists, turns and jumps. And, he's mixing in a little humor. Afterall, the song he's skating to is called "Phone, Wallet, Keys."

On the ice, his memory challenges seem to melt away.

"Well, I find it important for everyone to represent themselves in the long run because everyone's unique," Marcus told us.

He sure is unique. He's also a hero ... to the family he inspires every day.

"He inspires me to ... even though it's hard and even though it's rough, find what you love and do it with the people you enjoy to do it with," April said.

Dad says, Marcus makes him reflect on life.

"He reminds me that the only person that I need to be better than is the person that I am today," Jim told us.

Editor's Note: The following video is from a previous, unrelated report.


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