PARIS, MO -- Paris High School football just finished a 3-7 season, but the team had plenty of players who overcame adversity.
The sweet sound of Paris... Paris football that is. And the sound of a 6-foot-4, 195 pound wide receiver Zane Vaughn.
Paris quarterback Steven Hayhurst says, "it's nice to have another go to guy such as Zane where I can just throw it up there and I can trust him to go up and make a catch - 'cause he''s so tall." He almost didn't even go out for football, until his best friend convinced him. "He was all worried about getting hurt, but I was like, 'if you play 100% you wont get hurt'," lineman John Deornellis told us.
Doctors held Zane out of football his first 3 years of highschool because of an enlarged spleen. "I was diagnosed with it my 8th grade year." As a freshman, Zane was just 5-foot-7 -- over the next 2 years a massive growth spurt brought him up to 6-foot-3, and gave his spleen enough room for him to play football. And this past year, Zane added another inch, just for good measure.
And he wore a protective flak jacket away from the football field. "They said 'you can play as long as you wear this'." He also battles CF, or cystic fibrosis - a disease that hinders his digestion and clogs his lungs.
So he does his treatments. Twice a day for one hour each sitting. A machine to breaks up mucus in his lungs. But at first the disease made him feel... "disappointed that I had to come home and do my treatments because I was kind of shy about doing it in front of people - just what they would think of me, thinking maybe I would be a freak or being unnatural." He's not a freak, but he is a medical marvel; most people with CF struggle to grow and are usually about 6 inches shorter than they should be. "I'm kind of one of those unreal ones that's 6-4 and kind of heavier set, but a lot of them are short, like 5-6 and real skinny."
He's an example for younger kids with the disease. "Most kids, you know, would probably look up to him as a good role model for younger kids." He actually spoke when they had a CF education day they had, actually asked him to speak. Zane shared, "Some of the doctors have actually come to me and asked me can you come talk to this kid or these kids about what CF is, because some of them had just been diagnosed."
And he has a positive message for those kids: "If you take care of yourself you can kind of be like me, because I take care of myself and I stay out of the hospital as much as possible -- I'm a rarity and they can also be a rarity."
And plenty of positive messages for his teammates. "He's a great teammate and he's never negative." But this season held yet another setback... a torn quad in his first ever game. "When he goes down it kind of deflates you a little bit, and when you're throwing the ball you're kinda limited to one person."
But he beat that, too... to beat defenses for Paris.