High school senior in Fishers defies odds after life-changing diagnosis

FISHERS, Ind. – In four days, FOX59 will take the show on the road to Fishers! Before we get there, we want to showcase some remarkable people in the community.

Noah Malone is heading into his senior year at Hamilton Southeastern High School. He’s a track and field star, and one of the fastest sprinters in Indiana. He has six medals under his belt.

But everything dramatically changed when he was just 13-years-old. Doctors diagnosed him with Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy in 8th grade.

“August 2015—Noah came home and said the board was very blurry,” said Noah’s mom, LaTasha Sturdivant. “It was less than a week after competing in Jacksonville, Florida for Junior Olympics.”

You can imagine how hard it is to run without being able to see what’s right in front of you.

“It leaves me with peripheral vision,” said Noah. “I can see outside of my eyes and when I’m running its just gets a little bit blurry.”

Noah and his family thought it was the end for his track career, but it was really just the beginning. The change in Noah’s vision brought uncertainty.

“It was just a real game changer in terms of how we think about cooking oatmeal in the morning,” said Sturdivant.

But he and his family knew one thing—running would always be a part of Noah’s life.

“He could have thrown in the towel, but we saw him become very determined, very dedicated to track and other activities,” said Noah’s dad, Kyle Malone. “He became very focused in everything that he does.”

So, Noah adjusted; his family and coaches adjusted. Together, they found the best way for Noah’s new normal.

“I can’t imagine being an 8th grader, it’s difficult enough at that age and then to have something like that happen to Noah—lose his sight,” said Luke Stone, Noah’s coach at HSE. “Then kind of have to realign your goals and motivations and things like that.”

“The hardest part was probably…learning how to get used to it,” said Noah. “Because essentially you are just running again, learning how to run again ‘cause you don't know what’s in front of you.”

Stone helped tweak Noah’s training to make sure he would still be able to run with the team.

“I like to think of myself as bumpers for a professional bowler,” said Stone. “There’s actually five people on our 4x1 because I’m in there too. I basically dictate the whole race to him.”

Thanks to that help and the support of his family, Noah has been able to achieve what he didn’t think was possible after his diagnosis. Noah was named the 2018 Paralympic Track and Field High School All-American and Male Track Star of the Year.

Noah says he owes all his success to his support system of his family and coaches.

His story is just so well told—a young man that came in as a freshman a little nervous, a little scared, a lot in his world had changed,” said HSE Athletic Director Jim Self. “Now, you see this young man with those medals around his neck and just see such confidence.”

He’s an inspiration not just to his teammates and coaches but also to his little sister, who’s also a runner.

“I always like to do the events that he does,” said Zion Malone, Noah’s younger sister. “I always want to come in first place like he does too.”

Noah has a message to others who may be struggling: “It’s really important to keep going because you never know what might be in store for you,” he said. “You never know what you might even be capable of if you just keep going and I think it’s really important.”

Noah’s next goal is to get to the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo and win a gold medal.

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