HARTINGTON — Nothing is impossible for Neil Halford.
Halford, Fort Calhoun, was blinded after a farm accident as a child, but he refused to let that change his life.
Cedar Catholic athletes, coaches and supporters got a chance to hear Halford share his inspirational story during Friday’s Booster Club Kickoff event.
Halford said he looked into the barn on the family farm one day just as a horse was coming out. He scared the horse enough that it tried to jump over him, hitting him in the head with its back hooves. There was no brain damage, but Halford has been blind ever since.
While in the hospital recovering, his father told him he would have a normal life.
And he has strived to do just that.
Halford routinely showed his parents, friends, teachers, and strangers that being blind does not limit a person.
He refused to walk with a cane, something his parents and teachers fought him hard on. He also learned how to ride a bike, drive a four-wheeler, and play Nintendo.
“I learned as I grew up that there is always a way,” Halford said.
Halford went on to compete as a wrestler in high school. He talked about the trials and tribulations he faced, and the work that he put in.
He also set two goals as a freshman. He wanted to make it to the State Tournament, and he wanted to walk in the Parade of Champions at State.
As a junior he finally made it to State, and as a senior he found himself in the semifinal match, just one win away from the Parade of Champions.
He fought hard, but lost by two points to come just shy of his goal, but still came home with a fourth-place medal.
After that defeat at State, his father took him out to eat, and repeated a story he had told him back when he was recuperating in the hospital.
His father told him that he said he would make sure that Neil had every chance at a normal life, and then he said how proud he was of his son. Not because of how well he competed at State, but because of the person he had become.
Halford’s mental approach to life explains why he has become so successful.
“Don’t ask why. There is no future in seeking the answers to the past,” said Halford. “Also, never let success get to your head, but more importantly never let failure get to your heart.”
After Halford’s speech, Sam and Carrie Hochstein passed on the reigns as co-presidents of the Booster Club to Russ and Brooke Albers.
The Hochsteins have been Booster Club officers for the past three years.
Sam said he believes they will be leaving the Booster Club in good hands.
“It was a good job, and it doesn’t bother me to step down because the [Albers] coming in are going to do a great job, and all the help we had all three years has been wonderful,” said Sam Hochstein.
Russ Albers said he appreciates all the community support the school and Booster Club receive.
“The community’s help is huge, and without all of their help with the raffle donations from businesses, and the food and everything else that parents do, there is no way this would work,” said Albers. “It’s hard to imagine what it would be like without the community’s help.”
Now the booster club will focus next on their upcoming fundraisers, including the food that is grilled and sold at the football games.