Charlotte Brown provides pole vaulting heroics with a new standard of excellence

Competing for Rains High School in the town of Emory (pop. 1300), located approxiamtely one hour east of Dallas, Charlotte Brown made Texas sporting history in 2013. Becoming the first legally blind high school athlete to compete at the UIL state track and field championships, it was the first of several milestones in her proud track and field career. In her freshman year, Brown also ran the 400 meters and 4×400 relay.

In 2014, she would build on this historic legacy by earning a fourth place finish, clearing 11 feet. Of note, UIL rules were changed in order to allow Brown the opportunity to compete. Staying in lane one during events, she is guided through the track with the use of a beeping device. Its pitch is so high that very few others can hear it, but Brown’s heightened sense of hearing can receive it.

Having developed cataracts during her infancy, she struggles to judge distance, while being unable to distinguish colors and shapes. According to her mother, Stori, also a science teacher at Rains High, the odds of a newborn being stricken with such an illness was 1-in-20,000.

Growing up with two older brothers, she was declared legally-blind in the sixth grade. Brown would lose the last bit of her limited vision in the summer of 2013. Having shown interest in track and field since she was six years old, being legally blind did not serve as an obstacle to her desire to compete. Her guide dog Vader, a Labrador mix, is not just part of her family, but has proven to be an essential teammate during this remarkable athletic odyssey.

At the 2015 UIL state track and field meet, Brown could boast of a podium finish, capturing a well-desreved state medal in the Class 4A pole vault. Adorning her neck with the bronze medal, her first-ever, it represented redemption for her. Clearing 11 feet, 6 inches, tying her personal best, the medal triumph proved to be a highly emotional milestone as it was also her final state meet.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Brown’s high school years is the fact that she is third in a graduating class of 125 students. While she has gained a modest celebrity status in Emory, she shall be out of state for her postsecondary education. Next autumn, Brown shall further her education at Purdue Univeristy in Indiana. planning on earning a major in Human and Health Sciences. With ambitions of making the track team as a walk-on, she deserves the chance to be considered equal.

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