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Wautoma boy with terminal illness sees dream come true at UWSP wrestling match

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Nearly everyone can relate to playing a sport when they're young. Some play baseball, others basketball and some football, but for then 6 year old Miguel Duran, he found his passion competing in something more unique.

"We put him in wrestling and we didn't think it was going to work out," said Miguel's mother Arlene Bialk. "But something snapped and he was like, 'oh i'm going to be good at this,' and it took off from there."

However, just a few years into his young career things took a devastating turn.

"Miguel was diagnosed in 2018 with stage 4 Alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma," explained Bialk.

Alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, or ARMS is a rare aggressive form of cancer that attacks the soft tissue.

Despite the aggressiveness and rarity of the cancer though, the nine-year-old Miguel was able fight it into remission.

However later that year the family received the news that would change their lives forever.

"(The cancer) relapsed in December of 2019," said Bialk and what the doctors told her next, was every parents worst nightmare.

"The doctors told us he's terminal."

The prognosis was that Miguel only had a few months left to live, but in that time Miguel knew he still wanted to do what he loved, wrestle. A dream that the University of Steven's Point would help him achieve.

"Well one of our alumni had sent me a link to Miguel's page," said the Pointers wrestling coach Johnny Johnson. "Then he asked if this was something we'd be interested in doing."

There was no hesitation.

Just about a week and a half after earning his varsity letter for Wautoma wrestling, Miguel would join the Pointers wrestling team for their match against UW Whitewater.

"Well I don't really know what's going on," said Miguel. "But I do know that I will be an assistant coach for them."

But it would be much more than that. Miguel would not only coach that evening, he would also serve as an honorary captain for the Pointers.

However the highlight of the evening would be during intermission, as Miguel would make his collegiate wrestling debut, something his mother didn't think she would see.

"It's very special to me," said Bialk. "I'm glad that he's getting these opportunities and i'm glad i'm getting to watch them. I thought I had his whole life to get to watch these things. Then cancer struck and it's going to end that."

But despite knowing that her time left with her son was limited, there she was, just like any mother, cheering on her son in the biggest match of his life. Watching him fight, as he always has, to a 6-4 victory.

"He's my hero. I don't know how he finds the strength to do this but I am glad he does."

As Miguel's hand was raised and applause filled the gym, there was one surprise left for the young wrestler.

As the team greeted him with high-fives and congratulations, they also handed him his varsity letter, just one more accomplishment for the toughest wrestler in the gym that night.

And his words right after winning his match, are not only one's we can live by in sports, but in life as well.

"Try your best whenever you go, winning or losing doesn't really matter, just try your best."

Alex Stewart

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