24-year-old Blake Leeper, a Kingsport native, has dealt with his share of hurdles after being born without legs; he has worn prosthetics since he was nine months old. "Being born without legs, the doctors said I would never walk," Leeper told us.
But since 2009, Leeper, also known as the 'American Blade Runner', has had more ups and than downs. In 2012 Leeper won a silver and a bronze medal in London at the 2012 Paralympic games, making the Dobyns-Bennett High School graduate an icon in the world of sports.
In late October Leeper's stardom reached new heights when he signed with sports printing company Fathead. "I really think it will help a lot of lives and it will change a lot kids' aspects on life," said Leeper.
Leeper is the first para-athlete to be picked up by the company that makes wall decals, murals, and other graphics of sports icons.
He believes this opportunity will give him the chance to encourage younger disabled athletes. "It's not only for me, but for all of the kids all around the world. To see me when they are going through a challenge or a situation and feel like there is nobody to relate to, there's nobody they can look up to, they can go to Fathead." said Leeper.
Leeper says signing with Fathead is just the beginning of a legacy that he hopes to create for para-athletes around the world. "[Being the] first disabled athlete to be part of Fathead is huge. I'm the first but hopefully I won't be the last," said Leeper.
Leeper is in Kingsport visiting family this weekend. He lives in San Diego, where he is training to qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janerio.