Illness won't stop one young man from attaining his dream

Illness won't stop one young man from attaining his dream

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Payton Poulin plays to win.

The Florida State University freshman loves his job cheering on his family.

"I love the team because they accepted me as a brother," said Poulin.

It all began when FSU wide receiver Kenny Shaw invited Poulin to practice.

"Kenny Shaw," said Poulin. "He is one of my best friends."

Now Poulin is part of the team.

But to appreciate Poulin's current present to the world, you have to understand his past. The 19-year-old grew up in St. Cloud.

"I'm not supposed to be here talking to you right now," said Poulin.

Poulin was diagnosed with Schizencephaly when he was three.

"They basically said it's a cousin to Cerebral Palsy," said Retina Poulin, his mom.

Doctors gave his parents, Retina and Patrick, a grim diagnosis.

"Payton may never walk," Patrick Poulin recalled. "He'll be a vegetable. He may die at an early age. All I could think as a parent is ‘I'm going to do everything to fight against that.'"

Loved ones quickly learned that Payton has a purpose, and all they needed to do was support him and his dreams.

"God has a plan for him, and he's doing it," said Ashley Poulin.

Payton has loved basketball since birth and football since grade school. In elementary school, he met his idol, Bobby Bowden. Poulin quickly learned that to get Bowden's job he needed faith and an education.

"He didn't want to be in any special classes," said Patrick Poulin.

Payton worked hard for his good grades. He stayed up daily until 4 a.m. to finish his homework. It paid off when he got up out of his wheelchair and walked across the Harmony High school stage to accept his diploma.

"To see everybody crying and standing and giving Payton a standing ovation was one of the most touching, moving things you could possibly experience as a parent," said Patrick Poulin.

Many didn't expect Poulin to go to school, let alone go to college. That's exactly what made his acceptance to FSU even sweeter.

"We went to church and prayed," said Retina Poulin.

"We cried," said Patrick Poulin. "We were so happy for him."

Again, Poulin's love of sports fueled his drive. Poulin told his dad he wanted to work with the FSU football team. Patrick tried to make it happen, but couldn't. Then a few weeks after they dropped him off at FSU, Payton called him.

"And he said dad, I'm sitting in the coach, strength and conditioning coach, Coach Vick's office right now," said Patrick Poulin. "Coach Vick says I don't need that job. I'm going to stay here and work with him."

You could say it's all because Poulin lives life to his own tune.

"No is my yes," said Poulin. "I hear motivation! That is my motivation!"

What's next? Poulin hopes to join the FSU coaching staff and run a marathon.

"I know it may seem far away to a lot of people, but to me, I just have to reach up and grab it," said Poulin.

"Miracles happen every day," said Retina Poulin.

Payton and his parents are organizing a trip to the Rose Bowl. Head Coach Jimbo Fisher gave the family three tickets. A South Florida attorney paid for their travel and hotel expenses. Fifty donors have already given $1400 to help cover the rest of the trip.

Poulin truly enjoys helping others and inspiring them to live their dreams, as well. He says nothing is impossible.

"They just need to make that first step," said Poulin. "After they make that first step, it will be easy the rest of the way."

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