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Springdale athlete achieves life-long dream after medical scare

After two scary lung collapses, Springdale teen Dawson Welch was unsure of his track future. He now heads to run for an NCAA Division I cross country team this fall.

SPRINGDALE, Ark. — Growing up, we all have a dream. Sometimes, it’s all we think about and we will do whatever to achieve it. One teenager in Springdale was on track to reach his, when all of a sudden, everything changed.

“It was the day of the race I was kind of warming up and while we were warming up I had a pinch in like my lung or my heart and I didn’t really think anything of it until I started running,” said Dawson Welch.

Dawson Welch started running in elementary school. His mom said he began running with her and after that, he wouldn’t stop.

However, that pinch felt on race day turned into a visit to the doctor with his mom.

“It was on the ride home she called us and we were almost home and she said you need to get to the emergency room, his lung is collapsed and we need to get it fixed,” said Andrea Yarberough, Dawson's mom.

Yarbrough rushed Dawson back to the nearest hospital, where they learned that an extra growth on Dawson's rib had caused his lung to collapse again.

Because of this, Dawson needed to undergo one more surgery, giving his mom flashbacks to many days spent at Arkansas Children’s Hospital.

Those days started in 2009 when Yarberough's youngest son Grady had his first seizure. It was from there that Arkansas Children’s quickly became the family’s second home.

“We spent days weeks months at the hospital and on every floor,” said Yarbrough. “He had smooth brain which means he has seizures every day, breathing issues and developmental issues.”

Grady's condition gave Dawson a different perspective while recovering from his lung collapse.

“He had all these surgeries and was fighting so considering what he went through I thought I could push myself more,” said Welch.

Although Dawson questioned whether he would ever be able to run the same again, he kept going. 

“Some people have had it worse I had seen it first hand, I didn’t ever want to bring up excuses,” said Welch.

Because of his determination and his brother’s inspiration, Dawson can say he achieved his goal. Against all odds, Dawson made his dream a reality and will be running cross country for the Tennessee Volunteers this fall.

His mom continues to be his cheerleader, stating that her biggest advice to him is to remember that he can do whatever he puts his mind to, simply because he's been through harder times before. 

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