TOLEDO — Lakota senior Jayson Bennington was named the Tim Berta Courage Award and Scholarship recipient by the National Football Foundation’s Wistert Chapter at its awards dinner on Monday, March 20 at the Glass City Center.
Bennington, a three-sport athlete and a member of the National Honor Society, has lived with adversity throughout his life.
However, he has overcome that adversity and turned it into a positive outlook.
“With adversity there are so many opportunities to be negative and have excuses, but Bennington views it as an opportunity to make him a better person and build character,” states an NFF press release.
Bennington was born with cerebral palsy in his left leg. Having cerebral palsy has never been easy, but he has strived to be the best student-athlete he can be and to give younger students someone to look up to as a role model.
Bennington says he has lived with cerebral palsy for as long as he can remember, recalling his parents telling him at a young age that the doctors said he would not be able to play sports.
As an athlete who loves sports, no one wants to hear that, especially Bennington.
Both his parents and Bennington from a young age pushed to help treat his cerebral palsy and strive to become an athlete like he always wanted to be. Bennington and his parents worked on stretches from an early age to help treat his cerebral palsy.
When he was still young, his cerebral palsy affected him worse than it does today, but he is proud his parents helped him be able to do what he was able to during his high school years.
“Jayson always strived to be the hardest worker, then and even now,” the NFF states.
Fast forward to today, Bennington would like to say that he has crushed and exceeded the expectations that any doctor, his parents, others, and even himself at times had for his progress.
“Many could use cerebral palsy as an excuse to not do things, but he never let it slow him down,” stated the NFF.
Now, Bennington is a three-sport varsity student-athlete who has worked hard to get where is physically, while still managing to maintain academic excellence. He did not let cerebral palsy get in the way of his dream.
“Things surely are not easy but he continues to work hard and has been determined to reach his goals no matter what,” states the NFF.
Bennington feels he has met the accomplishments and goals that he set for himself, especially his senior year. He and his teammates had two coaches pass away his junior football season, and it was detrimental to both the team and community, yet they persevered.
Bennington continues to use those deaths to personally motivate himself positively and this past football season he used those experiences to help make him a leader on the team.
This year in football, as a middle linebacker, Bennington earned All-Sandusky Bay Conference River Division honors on defense, earning second team and honorable mention at linebacker.
Bennington has earned a varsity letter in all three of his sports. Most notable, he feels, is lettering in football.
Bennington feels the Tim Berta Courage Award is the biggest accomplishment he has received to date and considers it a huge honor to represent his school, teammates, coaches and community to receive a scholarship and reward in this manner.
Bennington says his hope is “to continually motivate and support those around him in any way he can.”
The award was presented by Tim Berta, an NFF honoree from Ida, Michigan, who earned an annual scholarship in 2023 from the Wistert Chapter. He was continuing his academic and athletic endeavors at Bluffton College when tragedy struck.
In March of 2007, Berta was involved in a horrific bus crash with his Bluffton baseball teammates. Seven died in the crash and several others were seriously injured, including Berta.
“Tim’s recovery was an inspiration to all of us that followed this tragedy,” the NFF said.
The Wistert Chapter honored Berta with the Don King Courage Award. Berta continued to stay involved with the Wistert Chapter and the presentation of future courage awards, so it was renamed the Tim Berta Courage Award to “honor his courage, inspiration and spirit.”