Saint Johns native is world-class athlete

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LANSING, MI (WILX) -- There's a world-class athlete right in our back yard--and she's headed overseas to compete for a world championship.

Jayci Simon playing a game of badminton. (Source: Simon family).

For most people, badminton is just a game with a birdie and a racket, but for Saint Johns native Jayci Simon, 14, it's an opportunity to compete against other athletes like her.

Jayci is just like any other young athlete. The only difference is that she has a rare form of dwarfism called Geleophysic Dysplasia.

"When we first got the diagnosis, I had no idea what that would entail other than limitations," Amy Simon, Jayci's mother said.

Opportunities to compete in sports against other athletes her size can be few and far between. But a couple of years ago, Jayci started competing with the USA Parabadminton team, a group of athletes of all ages who travel from all over the country to compete.

"It gives me the opportunity to play against other people with the same disability as me and that have the same challenges as I do," Jayci said.

"When she goes and competes in international tournaments other coaches and other players don't believe when she says she practices only two sessions a week," Pallav Deka, Jayci's Parabadminton coach, said.

"She's doing things that I never thought possible. So as a parent it's extremely rewarding, I really don't have words for it," Amy said.

"I'm super blessed to have a family who supports me and my journey through all of this," Jayci said.

Jayci will be heading out to Switzerland next week and we wish her nothing but the best.

Badminton will be played in the Paralympics for the first time in Tokyo next summer, a few of the players from the USA Parabadminton team are hoping to make it to that level.

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