Alumni makes tiger family proud

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Photo by Submitted Photo

Patience cheering at an Arkansas football game.

Story by Baylee McBride, Staff Writer

Texas High graduate Patience Beard is breaking barriers by being the first woman nominated for the Discover Orange Bowl-Football Writers Association of America Courage Award.Every year at the Orange Bowl, 12 athletes are nominated for the award, but on years the national championship is played at the Orange Bowl it is announced there. All the other nominees this year are football players, making Patience the only girl.“It’s really awesome because my nominee was from the university, so it means a lot,” Beard said. “I don’t see it as being inspirational because I’m just doing what I’ve always done.”

The award was created for athletes that inspire people. Even though people in Texarkana find her inspiring, those who went to school with Beard still view her as any normal person.

“She thinks just like us, she walks just like us, she talks just like us, and she has every ability that we have,” senior Cheyanne Jester said. “She’s definitely an inspiration because nothing will stop her.”

Beard, who graduated last year, attends the University of Arkansas, where she has experienced many new things. The new people she has encountered often ask her for an autograph or picture, even though many are timid about it.

“It’s different because in Texarkana everyone knows how I feel about my leg,” Beard said. “It’s something I’ve grown up with. People in Fayetteville don’t know that I’m comfortable with my leg, so they aren’t as open in asking me questions.”

When trying out for Arkansas cheerleader, Beard was quizzed about her leg. Her abilities were questioned due to her leg, but all questions were answered once they began watching as she did everything anyone else could do.

“They were making sure that I was comfortable with doing everything,” Beard said. “They wanted to know if I could do what was needed to be an Arkansas cheerleader.”

And Beard has more than sufficed her role as an Arkansas cheerleader. She has made the national spotlight as “the girl with the zebra leg” and earned a nomination for a national Courage Award, but for those in Texarkana Beard will always be the hometown girl with the drive to succeed.

“Her having just one leg doesn’t really mean anything to her, she doesn’t use it as an excuse,” Jester said. “She is dedicated and brave, just like anyone else who wants to commit to something like she does cheer.”

Patience stunting at the Arkansas red and white game.