Cerebral palsy doesn't stop this determined sportswriter

Cerebral palsy doesn't stop this determined sportswriter
It's Monday morning, and Jerry Dutton picks up a newspaper, the Monroe Monitor, from his porch.

He takes it into the house, walking past football helmets and baseball pictures and bats and balls and jerseys to where his stepson Dyami waits in his electric wheelchair.

He sits next to the 18-year old boy, whose head nods back and forth in anticipation.

Together they look at the paper. But they don't see news. They don't see events.

There before them in black and white type, they see a dream.

To understand the dream, you need to understand Dyami Seehorn.

He can speak but a few words.

He can move his body only a little, in barely controlled fits and spurts. "Severe spasticity" is the technical term.

Life is not an easy thing for a young man with cerebral palsy. But you'd never know it by looking at Dyami. A broad, open-mouthed grin never seems to leave his face. The eyes dance.

His shell is compromised, you see, but his minds is intact and overflowing with wildly ambitious, fully conceived dreams.

If you could look through the smile and behind the dancing eyes and peer into the mind of Dyami, you would see a determination so fierce, a will so unwavering, that it would throw you back.

As he navigates his chair through a hallway, leading me into his bedroom, I can't help saying out loud, "It's like walking into the Hall of Fame!"

And it's true.

The kid lives and breathes sports with an all-consuming passion that can only be fed by the obsessive joy of youth.

There's a big poster of Felix Hernandez on the wall. A Seahawks flag is draped over the window. There is a Lofa Tatupu jersey and a giant Mariners logo. There are cards and pictures and figurines. There is a framed photo of Ty Cobb in the '20s.

Dyami Seehorn wraps himself in the things he will never do.

I ask him, "Do you love sports?"

Given the surroundings, it's a dumb question.

He leans forward grinning. "Yeah," he says.

Jerry tells me that Dyami watches every Mariners game and every Seahawks game religiously. "He just loves sports," he says, "so I figured that with writing he has the time to sit down, evaluate what he's seeing, write it down and let people know what his passion is."

And so we get to Dyami's dream.

His wheelchair is a marvel of technology. It is his platform and his voice. There is a computer screen directly in front of him and two pronged sensors, one on either side of his head.

When I ask him, "Do you think our Mariners will be better this year?" he begins wagging his head back and forth, tapping against the two sensors like some kind of human metronome.

Each tap navigates him closer to a letter or word that he wants to choose. A tap to the left gets him the first half of the alphabet. To the right is the second half. Then it goes one letter at a time. Tap. Tap. Tap. A. B. C. D. Tap. Tap.

About 5 minutes later, he plays back his answer. A computerized voice says, "Better than last year because they signed Robinson Cano ... "

He smiles. I give him a fist bump and say, "I hope you're right."

Dyami's dream is to be a sportswriter.

I ask him another question, "What do you think will be the key to the Mariners being contenders this year?"

Tap. Tap. Tap. His eyes are focused on the screen. He is gone.

His caretaker Kelsea Bucklin says you can't talk to him when he's writing. She tells me, "He wrote an article about the Super Bowl and it took seven hours!"

Time, as it turns out, is nothing when a young man has something to say.

Minutes pass. Tap. Tap. Tap. His focus borders on ferocity. And then he plays me his answer.

"If Iwakuma gets healthy and Smoak and Ackley start hitting the ball we might have a good shot."

Hmmm. Indeed.

He's been writing for his school newspaper for some time now - usually play-by-play stories about prep sports. All the kids at Monroe High School know about Dyami and his dreams.

But he'd never covered a major sporting event before. He'd never been a 'big league' writer.

Dyami's mom died two years ago. His real father isn't a part of his life. Jerry didn't hesitate to shoulder the awe-inspiring responsibility of caring for someone with disabilities as profound as Dyami's.

When I ask Jerry if they had ever been down on the grass at Safeco Field his eyes get misty. "He would give anything just to be on the field for just a couple minutes ...." He stops, overcome for a moment at the thought of it. "Sorry," he says.

Polly Keary is the editor of the Monroe Monitor. She printed a column that Dyami wrote in January about his struggles to see the Seahawks victory parade through Seattle in a wheelchair.

Like anyone who meets Dyami, she's impressed by his guts and his passion.

"What if the Mariners allowed him to get the full treatment and report on the home opener at Safeco?" I asked. "Would you print his story?"

There was a pause. "Oh my God, yes!"

Rebecca Hale works with the Mariners. The home opener is her busiest night of the year. But when I told her about Dyami, she didn't hesitate. "Let's make something happen," she said.

And so, the night of the game, there was Dyami, Jerry and Kelsea, following Rebecca into the inner sanctum of Safeco Field. They saw the interview room where big press conferences are held. As Dyami rolled past a giant American League emblem painted on the wall with the words, "1995 America League Division Series" on it, Jerry lit up, "Look at that!"

Hale took them up to the press box, to see where Rick Rizzs and the gang do their broadcasts, and where the sportswriters work their magic.

If you've never been up there, the view is spectacular. "How'd you like to sit up here every game?" Jerry asked.

Dyami answered with a smile that could have lit up the ballpark.

On the way down to the field, they met former Mariner ace Mark Langston. And broadcaster Dave Sims.

And then through a long narrow tunnel they went, Dyami's hand navigating his baseball gearshift knob, and out into the open air of Safeco Field.

Batting practice was underway. There was Robinson Cano taking his cuts. And the LA Angels were in front of him stretching out. The air was split every few seconds by the crack of the bat. Whap! Whap!

And there were people that Dyami knew walking around, doing interviews, watching the hitters, getting ready for live shots.

Angie Mentink from ROOT Sports stopped by to say hello.

And when baseball analyst Bill Krueger learned of Dyami's writing aspirations, he said, "Whatever you want you can do it. I already believe in you. You can do it!"

Mariners pitching coach Rick Waits brought him a baseball and thanked him for showing up.

And through it all, there was that big grin plastered all over Dyami's face.

He looked out at all the green grass and big leaguers and he said one word. "Ama-zing."

When the game started, Dyami and his family had great seats. They saw a bunch of Seahawks take the field for the first pitch. They saw Corey Hart belt two homeruns. And throughout it all, the kid and his dad soaked it up and cheered and hoped, and the Mariners won.

Then, later on at home, wrung-out and excited at the same time, Dyami did what the pros do. He got his thoughts together and went to work. Tap. Tap. Tap. And the hours flew by, and the boy kept writing. Tap. Tap. Tap.

So now you know what it meant for this boy to open up the Monroe Monitor that Monday morning.

On page one was a story ABOUT Dyami, with a picture of him and his smile.

On page two was a story BY Dyami. It was called, "A Night To Remember."

And underneath the headline it said, "By Dyami Seehorn, contributing writer."

His dad read the story out loud. "This was one of the greatest days of my life. Seeing the players just a couple feet away in batting practice was amazing." Dyami listened contently. He already knew the story. He lived it.

If you could look through the smile and behind the dancing eyes and peer into the mind of Dyami, you would see a determination so fierce, a will so unwavering, that it would throw you back.

You would see a sportswriter.