Jonathan Dibble had it all planned out. He would repeat as the champion in the USA Adaptive Climbing Nationals competition, and head on to face the top competition in the world.
But when the 15-year-old Garner High School student got to the competition in Kennesaw, Ga., he was told he was too young to compete in international competition, even if he won the nationals. He had to be 16 by the time of the competition, and he was six weeks too young, his mom, Cynthia Dibble, said.
Well, he did win the national competition again, beating out about 50 other rock climbers in the Male Youth category. And he scored a higher score than he did in his previous win at the same event, but it wasn’t as sweet as it would have been.
“A little upset,” he said in a quiet voice.
The next international competition, which usually takes place in Paris, is two years away. But Jonathan Dibble said it just gives him more time to prepare against tougher competition.
“From what I’ve heard, internationals are kind of hard, compared to the normal nationals,” he said. “Some people train for months in advance.”
“He’s done well,” Cynthia Dibble said. “He doesn’t let anything stop him.”
He said he’s been practicing rock climbing often, working on his endurance. He climbs up and down, and back up again 10 times consecutively.
It’s a remarkable feat for someone who suffered a stroke when he was 8 years old.
Cynthia Dibble said he complained about his head hurting after getting off a roller coaster, while visiting family in California.
While they were driving back home, she noticed his face twisted and rushed him to the hospital.
For hours, doctors didn’t know what was wrong. Strokes are extremely rare in children.
Jonathan Dibble continues to do well. His parents say his condition has neither worsened nor improved, but he hasn’t been sick.
According to the National Stroke Association, “the risk of stroke from birth through age 18 is almost 11 in 100,000 children per year.” Because of their rarity, they are often times not treated properly.
“It’s funny because ever since he was born up until the stroke, he had never really gotten sick,” Cynthia Dibble said. “So when the stroke happened we didn’t know what the heck was going on.”
“We don’t know why it happened. All we can think of is that roller coaster.”
The road to recovery was a tough one. He had to relearn how to walk and talk, from the brain damage he suffered. But he hasn’t let his disability hold him back. He found solace in rock climbing and has been doing so ever since.
It makes him feel normal again.
Since the stroke, he hasn’t ridden any big roller coaster. He’s ridden a few small roller coasters. Before he gets on he studies the twists and turns just as he does rock climbing.
Dibble is also doing well in school. He received straight A’s in school. Next year, he will be in the 11th grade, and has plans to take multiple IB courses, including IB Spanish IV.
A previous version of this article stated Dibble was taking multiple AP courses including AP Spanish IV. Dibble is taking multiple IB courses, including IB Spanish IV. It also state Dibble sufered the stroke when he was 7 years old. Dibble suffered the stroke when he was 8.