The Boy Who Could Not Say “I Can’t”

I would like everyone to meet Nathan Jurado who lives in a town full of “I can’t” but has the courage to say “I can”. I met Nathan this past week during my trip to Grandfalls, Texas.

Grandfalls, Texas

This tiny town of around 400 people is located 40 miles outside of Odessa. The only thing separating Odessa from Grandfalls is miles and miles of rich oil fields.  The median income in Grandfalls is $20,000. The income of the land surrounding it – Millions.

Nathan Jurado and Brittany Wagner

I was driven around the town and quite honestly was fighting back the tears as I saw the living conditions of many of the students I was about to meet. They don’t have much. Some of them don’t have hot water, lawnmowers or healthy meals to eat.  There is no grocery store, no police force and no “clean-up crew” in this town.

Ironically enough, the bright spot is a beautiful new school building. It rises up out of nowhere as a shiny object in a very dull landscape. The building itself is pretty. The people inside are beautiful.

I spent the day with the children, teachers and staff of this school. I heard their stories, learned of their struggles but yet witnessed their smiles and felt their excitement and energy.  I started my day meeting with the high school female athletes. There is only about 15 of them. Most of the time these audiences can be tough. Not everyone wants to be there, no one wants to open up and only half of them really listen. Not this group! They were all in. 

female student athletes

We ran out of time and they begged for more. I would have given it to them. These ladies were hungry for inspiration, hungry for wisdom and starving for someone to see them. They were all smart, beautiful, strong and important. Some of them will never get out of the cycle that has become Grandfalls. The male athletes proved to be no different.

Meet Nathan Jurado

This past Friday night, the 6-man football team made it to the second round of the Texas High School playoffs by defeating their opponent 77-32. But I was inspired by another football player, not on that team. His name is Nathan Jurado. He is a middle school student with cerebral palsy. Nathan told me he had recently scored a touchdown at his middle school football game, smiling from ear to ear. He told me the two words his parents had told him he wasn’t allowed to say were, “I can’t!” I hugged him and high fived him and told him how proud I was of him.In a town full of “Can’t”, here was a “Can”

I was impressed that in a town full of “Can’t”, here was a “Can”. It wasn’t until hours later I was actually shown the video of this young boy crossing the endzone. I could not hold back the tears. And I still can’t.

In a town full of “Can’t”, here was a “Can”

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He told me the two words his parents had told him he wasn’t allowed to say were, “I can’t!”

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HIS accomplishment is tremendous. But what is equally tremendous is the reaction of his teammates and his opponents. When I see his teammates start to be his crutch and help him; When I see the wall of defenders open up and then the opposing team clapping at his success; When I see the peers on the field celebrate his touchdown more than he celebrates it himself, I am deeply moved. 

This kid, Nathan Jurado, his teammates, his opposition on the field, his coaches and teachers – this school in Grandfalls, Texas, is a lesson we all need to learn. Less than a mile from the richest oil filled land in America, this town suffering in poverty – stands on the back of a little boy and screams – “WE CAN!”

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