Meet the Snohomish students behind the 'Ike Act'

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by Heather Graf

Bio | Email | Follow: @HeatherGrafK5

KING5.com

Posted on February 28, 2013 at 12:02 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 28 at 12:02 PM

Last week, KING 5 reported the hard-fought battle get Ike Ditzenberger one more year as a student athlete at Snohomish High School.  Now, we're meeting his three friends and classmates that made it happen.

Ditzenberger is a special needs student, best known for his 2010 touchdown run that was caught on video and instantly went viral.

"He's always smiling, always has something funny to say, and loves playing football, love wrestling, and just likes being involved and being a normal kid in high school," said Snohomish senior Tanner Perry.

This year was actually supposed to be his last playing high school sports.  That's because he's been a student at Snohomish for more than four years, which is common for special needs students, but under WIAA rules makes him ineligible to play.

When Perry and fellow students Troy McCarty,and Kieren Raney were given a government assignment to write a piece of legislation, they instantly thought of their friend Ike.

"Well at first, when I heard that Ike wouldn't be eligible to play next year, I thought that sounded weird," said McCarty.  "They should already have that changed, that doesn't sound fair at all, and then I thought we could change it ourselves."

The boys set out to do just that.  They wrote the 'Ike Act', which essentially would change state law to allow special needs students like Ike to play sports for the duration of their years in high school, no matter their age.

"We knew there would be a positive response, but never this big.  It really, really is awesome when you think about what's going to happen here, because something is going to happen," said Raney.

The teens took their proposal to Olympia, and spent an entire day pitching it to state lawmakers.

"It was a little nerve wracking at first, the legislators were intimidating," said Raney.  "But we got into it and really enjoyed it.  I know they did too."

It turns out a change in state law might not be needed, because when the WIAA heard about the 'Ike Act', the organization agreed to change its handbook and rules, so that Ike can play sports next year.

The WIAA director says he'll evaluate each situation involving a special needs student athlete on a case by case basis.

The bottom line, though, is that these three students were the catalyst for the conversation.

They haven't yet given up on getting the 'Ike Act' approved in Olympia, because they want to make sure every special needs student is given the same opportunity.

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