‘I ran track like a cheetah.’ Teen with autism participates in high school track meet
A high school student who had autism got to live out his dream of being on the school’s track team.
Tyler Banuls had the chance to participate in Lyndhurst High School’s track meet on Monday against New Milford.
Everyone stopped to watch Banuls’s 100-yard dash race during the meet. His 17-year-old sister Bella is also on the team.
“I love him. He’s like my best friend,” she says.
Banuls may have autism, but he lined up for sprint work just like any other member of the team.
“If you ever need motivation or you need a spark to get you going, you just look at what Tyler deals with every day. He does it with a smile on his face,” says coach Tom Shoebridge.
“There’s no kid who has more heart on this team than he does,” says senior Jerome Maillaro.
It was a special moment earlier this week when Coach Shoebridge made sure Banuls got to race. With a little help from the New Milford track team, all eyes were on Banuls as he took the lead and kept it.
“Watching the crowd and his teammates cheer him on, people were running to see it. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen before,” says Banuls’s mother, Tara.
Banuls would veer of course for a step before finishing the race.
“I ran track like a cheetah,” he says.
Bella was running beside him the whole race.
“It was so exciting to watch him and be able to do it,” she says. “To be out there and feel what I feel like and every other [person] feels like out there on the track.”
His coach says Banuls ran the 100-yard dash in 34.2 seconds. They're pushing him to get that under 30 before the season is over.