High school senior learned to compete in track while battling cystic fibrosis

EUREKA, Mo. – With every stride and breath, high school senior Tanner Luedtke is taking some laps around the track to warm up and concentrate on his mechanics.

Luedtke is a little bit eye of the tiger and the heart of a lion as this teen tackles a lifelong fight.

Luedtke has cystic fibrosis, a lung disease that makes it hard to breathe.

“I have to take pills almost every day,” says Luedtke. “I have to do treatments, like a vest which makes your lungs shake and you get that mucus flowing out of you.”

May is Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month and there are two charity walks scheduled: Saturday, May 5 in St. Charles and May 19 at Carondelet Park. They’re to raise money and awareness in finding a cure for the genetic disease.

“I kind of want to be like that, inspiring little kids that this isn’t the end, this is only the beginning of this disease,” says Luedtke. “You’re going to fight through it get better and live the life you want.”

“This is something I learned about late in his career,” says Brad DeMattei, head coach of the Eureka boys track team. “As a freshman or sophomore, he never mentioned it. As coaches, we never knew about it. It was just something he worked through on his own. And it wasn’t until (the) end of sophomore, beginning junior year when his dad was talking to us and mentioned it and we were like, ‘Really?'”

“Breathing right,” says Luedtke. “Just run your race. You can’t worry about the others they’re going to do what they`re going to do and you got to do what you got to do.”

As his Eureka high school track and field team work towards its goal of the state title, Luedtke will focus on his breath and running his race on his terms.