Karson Garno gives baseball his all despite defect

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ARCANUM – Despite a birth defect, Karson Garno is doing what he enjoys…playing baseball.

A member of the 12-up team at Arcanum, he serves as a pitcher and first baseman.
He was born with Symbrachydactyly, a congenital hand anomaly, which affects a single upper limb.

“My umbilical cord was wrapped around his hand,” said his mother Megan. “We knew about six months along in the pregnancy when they found it.”

According to medical reports, the defect is not inherited. It is characterized by short, stiff, webbed or missing fingers. The underlying muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones are all affected, according to the report.

“It happens for no rhyme or reason,” Megan said.

The abnormality affected Karson’s left hand, so when he plays ball he has learned to place his mitt underneath his left armpit to keep it in reach. It took a lot of practicing but he made it work.

He admitted it took him a while when he first started playing to figure things out, but he was satisfied that it all worked out for the best.

A right-handed pitcher, Karson is dedicated to his supporters and by all rights, should be. He is following in his grandfather Dan’s and father Patrick’s footsteps by loving the game.
His mother said Karson has been practicing since he was 2 or 3 years of age, with the encouragement of his family.

Now a fifth-grader, he is realizing his “dream,” and is now in his seventh year of baseball.
Coached by Chad Aukerman, he recorded six home runs and one grand slam last season.
Wearing the number 22 on his uniform, Karson and his team play two or three times a week. The record for the team is currently 2-0 for this season.

In addition to his team’s weekly games, he has participated in the all-star competition for three years.

He enjoys playing in tournaments and in championship games, and last year won a trophy at one of them as a pitcher.

Karson prefers the pitching spot over the first-baseman position, but enjoys both.
He does a lot of practicing at the batting cages in Englewood.

Karson is a fan of the Cincinnati Reds, and said his favorite player is Elly De La Cruz
Like his father, Karson has started his own baseball collection and they are members of a card club where members exchange cards once a month.

Even though the pre-teen enjoys the Reds, he also favors the New York Yankees and would possibly like to play for them sometime in the future.

Karson had followed Jim Abbott, a left-handed pitcher with the Yankees at one time.

Why? Probably because they were each presented with the same situation.

(Photo courtesy Yahoo Sports)

Abbott, it has been said, is probably the most celebrated athlete with a major disability of his era. Born with a deformed right arm, Abbott was already a national hero before signing a professional contract with the California Angels in 1988.

He played in Major League Baseball for the California Angels, New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox, and Milwaukee Brewers, from 1989 to 1999. He was successful at the major league level despite having been born without a right hand.

Abbott was born Sept. 19, 1967, in Flint, Mich., and is now a motivational speaker.

In fact, Karson is doing a school project that is having students come dressed as the person they choose and talk about that person. Of course, Karson’s project is focusing on Jim Abbott.

Karson has experienced some bullying because of his birth defect, but opted to just walk away from those people. This has happened in school, at ballgames and even from some adults.

But, his mother pointed out, people around Arcanum are used to his condition now and it doesn’t happen as often.

“Now, more people are impressed by how good he is,” she said proudly.

A fifth-grader, Karson would like to attend college and major in auto mechanics after graduating. And, he would also like to play baseball at a much larger level.
In the meantime, he is playing baseball and will be playing football again this year.
He said his favorite class at school is gym and that his favorite teacher is Mr. Brackman.
And, he likes his teammates.

“They are all pretty level-headed,” his mother said.

Karson, whose paternal grandparents are Dan and Carolyn Garno and his maternal grandparents are Joy Thompson and Terry Thompson, agrees with her.

Baseball is a big family tradition for the Garnos. Karson’s grandpa and his father and uncle, Josh, have all been involved in the game throughout the years.

Even Karson’s younger brother, Lane, is now playing some t-ball.

Karson also plays football as noted before and has also played soccer.

“He excels at all of the games he plays,” Megan said. “If his team loses, Karson is hard on himself.”

“I just think we’ll do better the next time,” he said.

What is the secret to playing the game?

“Think positive and practice,” Karson advised.

Hit twice in his baseball career, he knows to wear appropriate gear and watch the ball.

Other hobbies he has are video games, especially Fort Night. And, because, he is artistic, he loves drawing and other forms of art.

He also recently started mowing lawns for people, using any type of mower to get the job done and especially likes the zero-turn mowers.

Karson has a bone in his thumb and has no feeling in the top half of his hand.
Doctors, Megan said, want to leave it how it is. And the family is okay with that.
The only time he has any problems is in the wintertime, when his hands become dry, and they take care of that with lotions.