Daren Manheimer rises above life’s challenges

Columbia River High School’s Daren Manheimer chases dream to play college baseball

Columbia River senior Daren Manheimer is KOIN's Athlete of the Week for April 28, 2017. (KOIN)

LONGVIEW, Wash. (KOIN) – Columbia River senior, Daren Manheimer, won’t let anything get in the way from achieving his goal: to play college baseball one day.

“I started off at third [base] and then my sophomore year they moved me over to first [base],” said Manheimer. “And now I’ve been floating between first, [to playing as a] DH [designated hitter] and pitcher this year.”

“Daren was born with a limb deficiency,” Ian Manheimer, Daren’s father, said. “It’s called amniotic band [syndrome], where the umbilical cord wraps around his limb cutting off the circulation, which prevented his foot from growing. I think the biggest challenge that he’s faced is [that] he’s always been extremely competitive [but his] sophomore year he went through a downward spiral. He started internalizing the differences that he was having. He started feeling different.

“Towards the end of [his] sophomore year in May, we went to a running clinic put on by Ossur and Challenged Athletes Foundation that totally changed his life.”

“So I attended the event,” said Daren. “It was mind blowing [and] It was life-changing, because I was around other people that were like me and I didn’t think that was a thing. It was pretty great to be around those people.”

“It was a beautiful impactful moment,” said Ian. “The people at Challenged Athletes Foundation reached out to him and invited him to apply for a grant, which gave him the [prosthetic right] leg that he has now. I think that was a major turning point.”

“I mean, just to see him kind of  blossom into this new person it was pretty amazing,” said Gavin Manheimer, Daren’s twin brother. “Now he’s very close with a lot of guys, and it’s just really cool to see.”

“I do have an opportunity to play in Puerto Rico this summer,” said Daren. “I have a GoFundMe account, and I’m trying to raise money so I can go to Puerto Rico this summer with my brother.”

It’s a chance to play in front of college baseball coaches.

“You can find me on Twitter @Man_Hammer10,” said Daren. “10 used to be my number but I changed it to No. 1 this year. So if you can find my Twitter [account], you can click the link and donate.”

“To play at the level that he does [is amazing]. He’s up here not to be some inspirational story,” Stephen Donohue, Columbia River’s head varsity baseball coach, said. “He’s here because he’s a good baseball player. He helps our team, and the other guys kind of treat him just like he’s a great player which he is.”