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‘Leading with love’ ends in dream-come-true, as Jacob Arnold suits up for Ryle team on Senior Night

By Andy Furman
NKyTribune Reporter

All he ever wanted was to be part of the group – one of the boys.

A member of the team.

Jacob Arnold gets that wish tonight when he suits-up for Ryle High School’s basketball game on Senior Night against Bourbon County.

Jacob Arnold with his team jersey

The just-turned 18-year-old senior will get the nod on Ryle’s starting five for the first-time in his four-year career with the Raiders.

And he’ll be one of five seniors receiving banners – and being walked to center court before the 7:30 p.m. tip-off, with his parents.

Perhaps commonplace for most high school seniors playing varsity sports.

For Jacob Arnold it will be a dream come true.

“Jacob was diagnosed at birth with Prader-Willi Syndrome,” his dad, Marc, a vice president of Duke Energy Ohio and Kentucky, told the Northern Kentucky Tribune.

Prader-Willi (PRAH-dur-VIL-e) syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that results in a number of physical, mental and behavior problems. A key feature of Prader-Willi syndrome is a constant sense of hunger that usually begins at about two-years of age.

People with Prader-Willi syndrome want to eat constantly because they never feel full (hyperphagia), and they usually have trouble controlling their weight. Many complications of Prader-Willi syndrome are due to obesity.

Yet Jacob knew – as early as his sophomore year – that he wanted to be part of the sports program at Ryle.

“It started with football,” dad Marc said, “In fact he wanted to try out for football, but it wouldn’t have worked out.”

What did work out for young Jacob was his relationship with his Math Teacher — Tyler Morgan – also a Ryle Assistant Football Coach.

Jacob loves sports and loves the Ryle teams. He has served as a team manager all four seasons.

“Tyler was his favorite teacher,” Marc said, “And really got Jacob interested in helping initially with football.”

The connection continued – Jacob served as team manager for Ryle’s football and basketball teams all four seasons.

“He just loves sports,” Marc continued, “He’s a big Bengals and Reds fan. He competes in Special Olympics basketball, softball and bowling. In fact,” Marc added, “Two of his coaches will be in attendance Friday night.”

Ryle’s Principal is Matt Shafer, and his motto with the students is, ‘Lead with Love.’

“These kids have absolutely demonstrated that to our son,” Marc said.

“The Ryle coaches have been phenomenal, including Coach Dorning (basketball) and Coach Engler (football),” Marc said. “The entire Ryle as well as Boone County community have been very supportive.”

But it was the Ryle basketball seniors who deserve the credit.

“It was the kids who voted Jacob on the squad for Friday’s game, not the coach,” Marc said. “The kids wanted him in.”

And if he really wanted to feel included, well Jacob was right there at the varsity team dinner, Thursday night at Texas Road House in Florence.

That’s when his teammates presented him with his team jersey.

Odds are he hasn’t taken it off yet.

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