Hilbert's Rece Sweere had a heart transplant as an infant and 17 years later he's living a normal life. (WLUK)
HILBERT (WLUK) -- Watch Rece Sweere play football, wrestle or run track and he looks like most high school kids, but he's come a long way.
Before Sweere was born his life was in jeopardy. Sweere needed a hear transplant once he was born to have a chance at living some sort of normal life and and fortunately a family from New York stepped up donated the heart of their nine-month child less than two weeks in to Sweere's life.
Heart transplants don't guarantee a person a long and healthy life, but it gives he or she a chance. Tony and Hillary Sweere, Rece's parents, were hopeful but knew nothing was certain.
"Think when he was first born you probably hit it on the head, I think it was helpless," Tony said. "He was a very sick baby, didn't even open his eyes. We didn't see his eyes until the night after he got his heart, so it was 12, 13 days into him being born before we actually saw his eyes because he was so sick.
"Your little son is laying there and there's nothing you can do to help. That was a tough time."
Probably the toughest time and more than 17 years later Rece is playing sports and going to school.
Rece obviously didn't know as an infant what his body went through. However, as he grew older he learned and he still has scars on his chest from the transplant.
As serious as his condition was at birth, Rece doesn't talk about it much. He's not into advertising his life, he just wants to be normal.
"Other people when they hear, they're asking me questions, stuff like that," Rece said. "I'd just like to be known as normal. I know that I'm different, but when I'm out on the field, or on the mat or running on the track no one's going to know that I am different."
"Anybody coming in that wouldn't know what his situation was at birth would have no idea by watching him, what he has endured over the past 17 years; as a young athlete and as a human being," said Mike Breckheimer, Hlbert's football and track and field coach. "How he goes about things doesn't change, he doesn't make excuses for himself. He will never bring it up. He's not going to talk about it."
Rece takes medication on a daily basis, but that's a small price to pay for his life. He is incredibly thankful to the family who donated the heart.
He hasn't met the family, but he knows what he would do if he did.
"First off, I would give them a big hug, obviously, and I'd like to thank them for choosing to donate," Sweere said. "I know that can be hard. My life was saved and many other lives can be saved by donating."
Rece's football career is over at Hilbert as the Wolves lost in Level 2 of the playoffs, but it has been quite an experience.
"It has definitely been a ride," he said. "I was a water boy, my dad is a coach, so I've been a water boy since I've been in the third, second grade. It's been awesome being one of those guys on the field, hearing your name from the press box."
And hopefully Rece's ride is just beginning.
Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay