LIBERTY TWP. — Landyn Bomar will tell you that some days are better than others. But then again, you’d never know unless you’d ask him.
The Lakota East High School sophomore has come to accept it with confidence.
“My days are very long,” Bomar said. “You don’t know what to expect. I take each day how it is.”
That mindset helps Bomar power through life daily, and the 16-year-old has been doing so living with spina bifida since birth.
“They told us before he was born that he would likely never walk,” said Landyn’s father, Robbie. “But here he is — walking.”
He’s also competing.
Bomar made his competitive track and field debut two weeks ago — on the Thunderhawks’ home track in front of his friends, family, teammates and coaches.
“I always tell him, ‘If it happens, try as hard as you can. We’re never going to be mad,’” Robbie Bomar said. “He takes everything day by day.
“The challenges he has to deal with are completely different challenges most other athletes have to deal with,” Robbie Bomar added. “I’m proud of him. I don’t think we tell him often enough. But I sure am proud.”
“I’ve always been told, ‘Give it your best shot. Just do your best,’” Landyn chimed in. “That’s been the motto for a long time.”
The early days
Spina bifida is a birth defect that occurs when the spine and spinal cord don’t form properly.
It’s also common for other health issues to arise from the diagnosis, which happened to be the case for Bomar at around 5 years old.
Bomar’s health specifically at such a younger age garnered an at-home nurse, who began to see behavioral changes that raised additional concerns.
“It was the first non-visible challenge we started to see,” said Bomar, who noted he doesn’t remember much during the time. “I guess I was spacing out and staring off.
“I was told I was a zombie for about two months.”
That’s when Robbie and his wife, Angell, decided to take Landyn to a neurologist. They were told he had a rare type of epilepsy.
“So that was kind of a challenge all in itself,” Robbie said. “We were scared to death as parents.”
Doctors came to conclusion that Landyn’s epilepsy diagnosis — combined with spina bifida — may have been one of the only cases in the world.
Landyn had to undergo 30-plus surgeries and four detetherings to separate scar tissue from his spinal cord — which would knock him out from doing much of anything for a couple months each time.
“Sometimes the surgeries are a big deal, and he won’t be able to participate for months,” Robbie said. “He’s not doing anything after that for months.”
Following the most recent detethering nearly five years ago, Landyn lost complete feeling in the lower part of his right leg.
“Not being able to compete, that’s honestly the most frustrating thing,” Landyn said.
But that hasn’t stopped him from enjoying some of his favorite extracurricular activities.
“I’ve got a couple passions,” Landyn said.
He was introduced to sled hockey, which led him to wheelchair basketball that ultimately led to track and field.
“This dude never has a bad day,” said Lakota East assistant coach Darryn Chenault, who has worked with Landyn on a one-on-one basis since the beginning of the track season.
“He’s always going to want more, and to me, that’s the unique thing about him,” Chenault added. “I’ve never met an individual like him that is just ready.
“I’m a fan. I’m a true fan,” Chenault continued. “Nobody compares to what he’s got going on. I’m attracted to people who want to work hard, and that’s what our relationship is built off.”
Bomar’s other passions are culinary arts, fishing and hunting — which of course are the least stressful.
“As long as there’s wheelchair accessibility,” Bomar grinned.
However, the challenges go far beyond the physical effects for Bomar.
“It’s about managing his time,” Robbie said.
“Right,” Landyn added. “Sometimes there’s not enough time in the day.”
Bomar wakes up earlier than the typical Lakota East student.
7:15 a.m. to be exact.
And on this specific day — Monday, April 3 — Bomar had it marked on the calendar.
Bomar showers, dresses, eats breakfast, takes his medication and attends to other personal hinderances that he faces every single day.
About an hour or so later, he was ready to head to school.
“It was a bunch of nerves,” Bomar said of his upcoming junior varsity track and field meet. “Nerves and adrenaline. That entire school day was long.”
Lined up for his 100-meter seated race with a couple sprinters spaced a few lanes to the left of him, Bomar heard the gun.
And he was off — to the right.
“It was terrible,” Bomar criticized himself. “I had to make some major adjustments.
“Bad start. Bad finish.”
Bomar had done his state record research for times in the 100-meter seated race. The qualifying time to compete at state is under 40 seconds, he noted.
Bomar finished the his first-ever race in 26.1 seconds.
“The crazy thing is that it was the first time that we were comfortable with the way his chair was working,” Robbie said. “We were trying to figure out the equipment for three weeks before the first meet.”
And Robbie said he feels Landyn’s strongest event may not even be in the 100-meter dash.
“I really think with his upper body strength, he can do well in the shotput with more practice,” Landyn’s father said.
Blindsided and never practicing a single throw, Bomar heaved the shotput 15 feet, 5 inches that same day. With some minor adjustments, he tossed a 17’5” on his second throw and then a 17’6” on his third.
The state record for the seated shotput is 25’8”.
“I’m going to be motivated to beat it,” Bomar said. “I’m giving myself no choice.”
“This is brand new to all of us,” Chenault added.
“We’re all rookies,” Bomar laughed.
“The great thing about all of us being rookies is that we get to learn together,” Chenault continued. “Just to see his determination is the reason why we do what we do.”
And that gives Bomar all the motivation he needs.
“I wouldn’t be where I’m at today if it weren’t for my family, teammates and coaches,” Bomar said. “I definitely impressed myself after the first meet — knowing nothing and doing what I did. I was very happy — very surprised.
“I just want to get faster and better. Just knowing that I can do things other people can, but maybe a little different. That’s not going to be enough to stop me.”
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