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Public Affairs : WritingWinner

West Point 5th grader wins MLB essay contest

Story and photos by Kathy Eastwood
Staff Writer
WEST POINT, N.Y. (May 16, 2013) — Sharon Robinson, educational consultant for Major League Baseball and daughter of baseball legend Jackie Robinson, visited Jeffrey Dreher’s fifth grade class at the West Point Middle School May 6. Robinson presented the class with T-shirts displaying the number “42”—Jackie Robinson’s number as a Brooklyn Dodger, the first African-American to play in MLB and break the color barrier in 1947.

Robinson visited the class to present fifth-grader Luke Lunday the grand prize for writing one of the winning essays in the 2013 “Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life” contest. Lunday and Jennifer Wayland, a ninth-grade student from Chesterfield, Mo., wrote the winning essays out of more than 18,000 essays submitted.

Lunday received a laptop computer and tickets to the MLB All-Star game. Robinson spoke about her famous father and their home life from her book about her dad, “Breaking the Ice.”

“When we moved to Connecticut, there were woods and a lake,” Robinson said. “It was the center of our activity in the summer, but dad would never go near the water. In the winter, our friends would always want to go see the award room and ask dad about his life in baseball. But the first time the lake froze over, which was very rare, we wanted to go ice skating.”

Robinson said it was OK with him if it was OK with her mom, so they decided to go ice-skating, but not before her dad decided to test the ice first.

“He reluctantly put on his galoshes, took a shovel and a wooden stick and went to the lake,” Robinson said. “We all yelled for him not to fall in. He couldn’t swim.”

Robinson presented the fifth-graders with a Robinson book set and autographed her “Breaking the Ice” book. The class then filed into the auditorium where Lunday read his prize-winning essay about overcoming his personal obstacle—cerebral palsy.

Lunday said he was told that he would need therapy and probably wouldn’t be able to do much such as ride a bike without training wheels. The therapist couldn’t have been more wrong.

Not only has Lunday learned to ride a bike without assistance, he now enjoys jumping rope, judo lessons and is learning how to play a guitar.

“I never gave up,” he said.
Luke Lunday, a fifth grader at West Point Middle School, received the grand prize for his winning essay about breaking barriers.
Sharon Robinson, daughter of baseball legend Jackie Robinson, visited the fifth grade at West Point Middle School May 6 to congratulate Luke Lunday, who won the grand prize in the Major League Baseball and Scholastic contest on the best essay for the Breaking Barriers program. The essay theme this year was “Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life” essay contest. Luke wrote about the challenges he has overcome from having cerebral palsy.