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Disabled Boy Continues Soccer Play

April 15, 2000

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Months after his fight to play soccer drew national attention, Ryan Taylor and his padded red walker are back on the field _ this time without objection.

Ryan, a 9-year-old with cerebral palsy, is playing with his Pioneer Park Thunder teammates and without any opposition from the Lawton Evening Optimist Soccer Association.

The league had suspended Ryan over safety concerns about his walker. But he won the right to play the final game of last fall’s season from a federal judge after he claimed the league violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The ruling applied only to the one game, but the league has since agreed to let Ryan play, said his mother, JoAnne Taylor.

``Everybody knew who he was,″ she said. ``I was wondering if he was going to be able to play without a camera in his face.″

Ryan has become a local celebrity since his battle with the league. He rode on the fire truck during Lawton’s Christmas parade and flipped the switch with a group of kids on the community Christmas tree, Taylor said.

Hollywood promoter Paul Shrater plans to pitch Ryan’s story to networks and cable stations.

``It was immediately something that struck me as one of the human heart kind of stories that people like and I’d like to see more of,″ Shrater said.

Any money, Taylor said, would be put a college fund for Ryan.

After this spring and fall, Ryan will be too old and the next level of soccer too competitive, his mother said.

For now, Ryan mans his position as a defender near the goal with his four-wheeled walker in front of him. There’s usually not much action on Ryan’s end of the field, but Taylor said her son is just happy to be on the field with his friends.

``There’s three of them down there, and I think they’re picking flowers and going to sleep most of the time,″ she said.

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