HINSDALE, N.H. -- Garrett Carrier knows pain.
Having been born with VACTERL association, a condition consisting of defects throughout the body, he has been through six surgeries in his life, including one on his back in July. But the active 12-year-old said the most agonizing part is not participating in the sports he loves to play.
That's why Joe Boggio, the former coach of the Hinsdale Middle School boys basketball team and the current principal of Hinsdale Elementary School, nominated Garrett for an award from the Council for Youth with Chronic Conditions. Despite being sidelined this season due to July's surgery, Garrett was honored along with 10 other young people from across New Hampshire at a ceremony at the Holiday Inn in Concord this past November.
"It was pretty cool, just to see how people live with the same stuff I do," he told the Reformer. "It was a very cool experience because (Boggio) actually wrote a letter and said he enjoyed watching me play and he thought I was good at playing and improving very much."
In his nomination, Boggio wrote: "Garrett is recognized for his courage and persistence in not allowing his condition to dictate to him how he lives his life. On the court or ballfield his resilience and determination make him a formidable foe and great teammate. He is an inspiration to all of us who know him."
Garrett said he typically plays point guard during basketball seasons and handles first base and center field when it's time for baseball. He and his mother said he has an doctor's appointment coming up and should be cleared to play baseball for the Pacers this spring.
"I don't like sitting around during sports season while everybody else is playing games," the seventh-grader said.
Garrett's mother, Debra Carrier, said their state representative Bill Butynski called area schools to inform the principals about the Council for Youth with Chronic Conditions and Boggio knew from his experience with coaching Garrett that he fit the bill. She said Boggio accompanied her husband, Michael Carrier, and Garrett to Concord in November. She said it was amazing to hear about the struggles of the other 10 children and she doubts there was a dry eye in the Holiday Inn ballroom when they or their parents got up to say a few words.
Michael Carrier, who is a detective with the Brattleboro Police Department, said he and his wife are very proud of their son, though Garrett's accomplishments would not be possible without the excellent work of his doctors and nurses. He said Garrett's surgery in July was his final scheduled one and it should be smooth sailing from here for his son.
"You would never think, to this day, that he had any limitations," Michael said. "Now, he's looking forward to baseball."
Domenic Poli can be reached at email@example.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.