All Hart: Zeeland teen runs despite joint condition

Jared Hart
Zeeland West High School junior Jared Hart at a track meet on May 4, 2017.


ZEELAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Zeeland West High School junior Jared Hart can cover a mile in less than six minutes. That’s even more impressive when you know his knees and ankles don’t bend.

Hart has arthrogryposis, which means he was born without joint contractures in his wrists, elbows, knees or ankles. Only one in 3,000 babies are born with the condition.

He has to run with braces on both legs, but it doesn’t really slow him down. He competes in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs for the Zeeland West track team. His time in the 1,600 is 5:53.

“I kind of just grew up and I got to stay active. I get bored quickly. I want to be doing something most of the time. Boring weekends for me are kind of no fun. I like going out and experiencing new things and it’s enjoyable,” Hart said.

“I’ve always tried to treat him as a normal kid, but yes, he kind of amazing me at times with the things he’s able to do and kind of blows my mind when he can do something I didn’t expect,” said his father, Gary Hart. “So nothing really limits him. The only thing we’ve held him out of is contact sports.”

Jared Hart also rock climbs, snowboards and next week, he will race a handcycle in the 40th annual Fifth Third River Bank Run.

“I think of it as I’m a normal person, I just do things differently. I try just as hard as anyone else and if I have to do something different, I will,” he said.