Colo. fifth grader among 'Breaking Barriers' prize winners

Aidan Hamilton has overcome epilepsy and autism to become excellent student

Colo. fifth grader among 'Breaking Barriers' prize winners

LAKEWOOD, Colo. -- Bethlehem Lutheran School fifth-grader Aidan Hamilton would love to become a broadcaster when he grows up.

"I never stop speaking," Aidan said.

"I can attest to that," added his smiling mother, Ashley Hamilton.

And Aidan has quite a story. Overcoming epilepsy and autism to become a thriving student made him one of several national top-prize winners in the "Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life" essay contest. The Major League Baseball Educational Program honored Aidan with an assembly on Tuesday at Bethlehem Lutheran School's gymnasium.

Sharon Robinson, daughter of MLB barrier-breaker Jackie Robinson, visited the school, along with Rockies right-hander LaTroy Hawkins, Rockies mascot Dinger and several club and MLB representatives. Aidan and Sharon Robinson were to be recognized during an on-field ceremony before Tuesday night's Padres-Rockies game at Coors Field.

Aidan received a new laptop, his teacher Jeff Haverkost received a Galaxy Tablet and more than 30 members of his class received No. 42 Robinson jerseys. The Rockies donated more than 300 tickets to Tuesday's game for students and school and church personnel, as well as 200 bobbleheads and giveaways.

Aidan's entry was the idea of his grandmother, Linda Roybal, and he worked on it with his grandmother and mother. He also received inspiration from Haverkost, who has worked at the school for 24 years, and principal Michelle Fischer.

"We worked very hard, for a long time," Aidan said. "It turned out it was fun. Amazing."

Seizures caused Aidan to leave school midway through first grade, and he had to learn to read and write again and repeat the grade.

"Like Jackie, I was different," Aidan wrote in the essay. "I was not always included in activities with other students. Sometimes, people were unkind. I know how much courage it took for Jackie Robinson to take the field when he knew that most people did not want him there."

With the help of caring teachers, Aidan was able to catch up in school and work on fine motor skills. He said he could not tie his shoes until age 11. And there was more.

"Last year, I was diagnosed as autistic," Aidan wrote. "I guess being epileptic wasn't enough for one kid. My grandmother always tells me these things are 'conditions, not excuses.' I am determined not to let my 'conditions' hold me back from being the best I can be. Like Jackie, 'Above anything else, I hate to lose.'"

Aidan, who wants to be a football analyst, has become an excellent student, and has played with the school's basketball and track-and-field teams.

He wrote: "For the first time since I started school, I earned a place on the honor roll. Not only did I make the honor roll this year, I made first honors. Sometimes I need extra help, especially in math, but I am determined to be a good student."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.