Local athlete is running against the odds

Matthew Ballard refuses to let an illness get the best of him.

The Ben Lippen Junior looks like your typical high school track star, until you see him pull out his inhaler.

"Breathing treatments every morning before school. I take about 40 to 50 pills everyday," Ballard explains.

He was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when he was just seven weeks old.

The disease primarily affects the respiratory, digestive and reproductive systems, including the sweat glands.

But Ballard says the illness can't keep him away from the track.

"Ever since the first practice, the first meet, I fell in love with it," he explains.

In 7th grade, Ballard found his love for track when he ran the mile in well under six minutes.

And in 8th grade, he was the only middle schooler to make the state meet.

Paul Ballard is Mathew's father and his number one fan, and says he's amazed at his son's ability.

"The feeling he has when he finishes and is exhausted, but he's accomplished some things he's reached a goal, so it's real cool," Paul says.

Ballard has qualified for the state meet again running the 800 meter, and says no matter what, he will never give up.

"Whenever I'm doing it, I just have to put it in my head that it's going to be tough. But I have to deal with it and I want to be an inspiration to people," Matthew adds.

According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, 30,000 Americans live with the disease. And with researchers so close to making significant strides in treating cystic fibrosis, every little bit helps.

This weekend, both Matthew and Paul will be at Riverfront Park for the Walk for Cystic Fibrosis.

Registration for the event starts at 9 a.m. and the walk begins at 10.

All proceeds will go to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Find out more about the event by clicking here.