O.P. runner overcomes the odds & inspires others

Posted at 8:25 PM, May 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-22 20:25:42-04

Orchard Park senior Peter Rifenburg has overcome obstacles his entire life. In June he'll finish his final season as a member of the track and field team, a sport he never thought he'd be able to play. 

"I never take days off and I always, no matter what my vision limits me to do, try to be the best I can be," Rifenburg said. "I always wanted to get involved with a sport and not being able to play contact sports really led me to non-contact sports, like track and field. So I joined my junior year and I seemed to fit right in." 

When he was just two months old, Rifenburg was diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma, a form of eye cancer. Despite taking steps in the right direction, Rifenburg is legally blind and has an incredibly difficult time with his central vision. 

"It scares me to watch him do it because it's not just like he sees that balance beam coming up that he has to jump over," Peter's mom Rachel Rifenburg said. "He doesn't see it until he's right there. He has to have his timing perfected to get over the hurdles and to get over the balance beam."

Peter competes in the pentathlon, an event that includes the long jump, hurdles, shot put, 1500 meter run and high jump. 

"He's one of the toughest kids I've coached," Orchard Park Varsity coach Chuck Mancabelli added. "All those things that go with world class athletes go along with Peter, that determination to better one's self is just up there with anybody that I've coached in the 23, 24 years I've been coaching."

Next year, Peter will head to Brockport for his freshman year of college. He's not sure if he'll try and join the track and field team, but says running is a passion he'll always have.  Another passion -- helping others.

"I want to be an adaptive physical education teacher, which is basically a regular P.E. teacher, but you work with people who are disabled or have other disabilities like I do." 

Take WKBW Everywhere, on all your devices.  Download below!

Phone or Tablet: Apple, Android
Set-top Device: Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV
Amazon Alexa

Personalize your news, get the latest 7 First Alert Forecast, and watch 7 Eyewitness News video wherever, whenever.

Learn more here about what 7 Eyewitness News provides on all these devices.