STILLMAN VALLEY, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — There’s something special about Stillman Valley football; maybe it’s the ground and pound play, their grit, or the players’ relentless determination. Well, Logan Lalor embodies all of it, but there have been some special challenges along the way and it’s nothing short of remarkable that he’s standing where he is today.
“He’s taught us gratitude,” said his mother Heather, with tears in her eyes.
It was the summer of 2006, Mike and Heather Lalor were ready for their biggest game yet; parenthood. And a new player was about to join the roster, but the minute their first child was born, everything immediately flipped.
“You hear within a split second ‘he’s not breathing’ and there wasn’t ‘it’s a boy,’ I just remember them saying he is not breathing,” said Mike.
There were physical complications right from the start for their son Logan. They had 20 doctors appointments in his first 30 days of life, searching for any kind of answer to explain his extreme muscle weakness.
The Lalor’s were referred to Illinois Early Intervention when Logan was four months old to start working with therapists on his muscle development.
“I’m so naive to things and thinking that in terms of like, say, coaching and like an injury that I remember asking her [their therapist], so what do you think about three or four weeks or maybe a month or two of therapy? And we’ll be good to go, right?”
Coach Lalor has spent years pushing his football players to their highest potential on the football field, but there was no guarantee Logan would ever be able to do those same things.
“He will be lucky to walk,” said Mike. “And that was the ultimate just gut punch, that was the moment that you realize, no, there is no quick fix to this.”
Slowly, Logan started learning how to roll over, then at three years old he took his first steps. But nothing came naturally.
“That’s where the therapists were just a godsend of teaching you the basics, if you’re using sports terms, the mechanics of whatever it was that we’re learning how to do.”
And the Lalor’s kept pushing forward, through every era of life.
“We say suck it up a lot,” Heather said laughing. “We were going to have to suck it up and just keep pushing forward. For years we said he was a little walking question mark because you don’t have an answer, you don’t have a diagnosis.”
Until 10 years, 6 months, and four days later, they would finally have an answer.
Heather still has the voicemail from 2016 when they found out Logan’s diagnosis, here’s part of what she heard on that December day.
“Hey Heather, it’s Gina Morely calling from the genetics department, we believe that we have an answer.”
The Lalor’s knew if they ever found an answer, it would be rare, but they didn’t know it would be this rare.
“It’s called Early B-cell Factor Three, so it’s EBF-3,” said Heather.
EBF3 is an incredibly rare genetic mutation, which helped to explain a lot of Logan’s developmental delays.
“You always blamed yourself and looking back, it’s like that gave me a little bit of reprieve that I didn’t do it. I didn’t do it as his mom, but I couldn’t fix it,” said Heather crying.
But if you know Logan, or you’ve had the chance to meet him, you know he’s not going to sit back and give up. He will push forward just like his parents always taught him, and that’s what he’s done.
“I just kept going each and every day, 110 miles an hour, like now I’m here, 17, junior on the varsity team coached by my dad, and it’s awesome.”
And just like dad, football and “his boys” on the sidelines have been his biggest motivation. He’s been there watching Stillman Valley play since he was born, hoping one day he could get out there and do the same.
“Football is my life, it’s what I do,” said Logan.
It was a Thursday night game this season where Stillman Valley played Rock Falls, and Logan got his first starting job.
“I was like, holy cow. I was like, I cannot believe I’m starting at extra point, so it was really a huge honor for me.”
And there’s no one who was more proud to be out there at left wing than Logan was.
“I think it’s very known that he wants to be out there and he wants to play,” said Stillman Valley senior Keaton Rauman. “And when he got that opportunity, he really seized it.”
Coach Lalor stood on the sidelines that night, holding his breath, in awe of everything Logan has overcome.
“It’s almost surreal at times when you look out there and to see that he’s made it. He missed out on a lot of childhood because he couldn’t do things. And once he was able to get up and be mobile, I’ve always said it’s like he’s making up for lost time.”
And he will never let up, it’s just not in his DNA.
“I keep on pushing and I work every day,” said Logan.
It doesn’t mean that every day is easy, but every day is worth living for the Lalor family.
“I always say that God gave him challenges and God gave him give him gifts as well,” said Heather.
The gift of perspective. I think we can all learn a thing or two from Logan.
“Everything that he has overcome is truly incredible,” said Rauman.
A walking miracle, some would say.
“It kind of feels like a miracle to play with him.”