Milan High School senior competes with no limitations despite cystic fibrosis

These photos provided by his family show David Carpenter through the years as both a football and baseball player. (photos courtesy Carpenter family)
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MILAN, Ind. (WTHR) – David Carpenter takes swings facing a pitching machine in a batting cage at Milan High School. Life has thrown some hard strikes at Carpenter. He was born not breathing. That was just the start of serious health issues that make hitting baseballs and playing quarterback for the Milan High School Indians remarkable.

"Sports has meant a lot to me because I love it so much,” said Carpenter, the Papa John’s Athlete of the Month for April. “It's a big part of my life. Kind of something I've always done when I was younger - love from then and that love has just grown up with me."

David suffered complications at birth from cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder in which the lungs and digestive system clog with mucus. He spent the first year of his life with a feeding tube. Doctors told David's parents that he would likely be small and sickly and have trouble keeping up with other children.

“He's a fighter.”

Now he's 18 years old, an honor roll student and senior athlete swinging hard every day to stay healthy.

"My mom and my dad push me to try to be the hardest worker I can be and to always make sure I'm on top of everything, because they know how important it is and what the disease is,” said Carpenter.

David takes about 50 pills a day to aid digestion and breathing. He uses two inhalants and wears a vest for half an hour twice a day to break up the mucus in his lungs. Most of his teammates have no idea.

"Never had limitations really,” said Carpenter. “I always try to make it a priority, unless something is bad, you're always going to be like one of the guys and I want to be treated like all the other guys."

"He wants no sympathy, no attention,” said Milan varsity football coach Ryan Langferman. “That's why this award is killing him because he doesn't like to talk about himself. He wants to give the credit to everybody else around him."

Last fall, David suffered a broken leg in the third game of the football season. But he came back to play for Milan in the sectional. He’ll play football for Franklin College this fall.

"He's a fighter,” said Kyle Sabol, Milan High School strength & conditioning coordinator. “That's something that he was brought up to be. The kid has been fighting his whole life. He's not going to let a broken leg stop him. He's not going to let adversity stop him. He's not going to let anything stand in the way of what he wants to achieve."

Life expectancy for someone with cystic fibrosis is 35 years. David says his time is in God's hands. David's hands are busy playing catch.

David will also be honored as one of four recipients of the Brady Comeback Award. WTHR is a proud partner in the Methodist Sports Medicine Brady Sports Achievement Awards and Dinner at the Crane Bay in downtown Indianapolis on May 10.